Col Shaban Bantariza died of COVID-19, says government

RIP: Col Shaban Bantariza

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Deputy Director of Uganda Media Centre (UMC), Col. Shaban Bantariza, 57, is dead.

Col. Bantariza who has been battling illness passed on at Mulago Hospital last night where he had been admitted since Sunday according to family members.

Government spokesperson, Mr Ofwono Opondo, who doubles as the UMC executive director told journalists that the former army spokesperson had died of COVID-19.

“He died at about 2am this morning from Mulago Hospital where he had been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit since Sunday,” Mr Opondo said.

Bantariza had been complaining of chest pain, low blood pressure, sugar and cough before he was admitted to hospital.

“He was first admitted in Mbuya Military Hospital on Friday from where he was taken to Victoria and then eventually transferred to Mulago after they had suspected he could have contracted COVID-19,” Mr Opondo added.

“His samples were tested and it was confirmed that he had contracted COVID-19. The postmortem has been done and it confirmed that he died of Covid-19,” Mr Opondo told journalists.

Bantariza’s death occurred just hours after the Ministry of Health Monday said they had registered 114 new virus infections as the confirmed cases rose to 11,557.

The virus has claimed 101 Ugandans since March this year when the outbreak was confirmed in the country.

At least 7,351 have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals across the country, according to an October 26 update by the Ministry of Health.

Who is Col Shaban Bantariza

Bantariza has been serving as the deputy director Uganda Media Centre since June 2015 and officially retired from the army on September 28, 2015. He served as the Army spokesperson from 2000 to 2006 and has also served in different capacities as commandant National Leadership Institute (NALI), in Kyankwanzi between 2009 to 2011. 

Bantariza was known for his eloquence and no-holds-barred approach to issues when he served as army spokesman in the early 2000s. This was before he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel upon enrolling at the Senior Command and Staff College Kimaka.

Upon graduation in 2007, Bantariza was deployed at the army headquarters as deputy chief political commissar in 2008. He was later appointed commandant of the Oliver Tambo College, Kaweweta, from where he was transferred to Kyankwanzi in 2009.

Earlier in September this year, Bantariza was forced from the race for National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice chairperson for Western Uganda because he was still a serving government official. 

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In 2013, Bantariza was arrested and charged with three counts of fraud against a backdrop of an investigation into the mismanagement of the National Leadership Institute where he was accused of forging receipts and employing unprofessional workers and sometimes relatives at the institute.

But after a one and a half year battle, Bantariza was set free after the army court found him not guilty of the accusations. He later accused people within the system of tormenting him.

Then, Bantariza said that after fulfilling Jesus’ command of forgiving his enemies 70 times seven times, he was now ready to be reinstated to his former job or anywhere else.