Reports made available by the BBC claims the Bank of Uganda was forced to issue a statement after a petition was brought before a Kampala court by a citizen seeking orders to exhume the body of top Ugandan socialite Ivan Ssemwanga to recover the wads of cash that was buried with him.
According to the petitioner Abey Mgugu, the currency notes thrown into Ssemwanga’s coffin as it was being lowered into the grave reflected wastage and amounted a violation of the socio-economic rights of Ugandans. Mgugu also asked the court to grant him custody of the cash so he can put it back into circulation.
In a statement posted by the Bank of Uganda on its official Twitter page, the bank described the shilling as a national symbol and warned the public to refrain from any act, conduct or use of shilling notes and coins for purposes other than those for which the national currency is intended.
The bank also said it had proposed amendments to the Bank of Uganda Act to include a clause that would criminalize any acts that constitute a defacing, mutilation or disrespect of the national currency.
The late Ivan Ssemwanga, who died aged 39 was famous for his flamboyant lifestyle. Before his death, he was the leader of the Rich Gang, a group of wealthy, mostly middle-aged Ugandan men based in Uganda and South Africa.
Reports by The Nation say members of Ssemwanga’s so-called ‘Rich Gang’ who arrived at his funeral in state-of-the-art cars spared no effort at burying their late leader in true celebrity fashion as they emptied bottles of expensive champagne and splashed money in his grave during his burial last Tuesday.
While it is not clear how much cash was buried alongside the late businessman, reports say wads of currency notes including the Ugandan shillings, South African rands and the US dollars were thrown into his grave.