MARACHA. At least 35 students of Maracha secondary school (SS) in Nyadri sub-county, Maracha district have been charged with causing malicious damage to property following a recent strike they staged at the school.

The students were paraded before the Grade One Magistrate’s court in Koboko on Thursday.

While reading the charge in a fully packed court session that took about 45 minutes, the Resident State Attorney (RSA) Mr Simon Angualia said the suspects destroyed windows, doors and the school fence on Monday, July 1, 2019.

“Strikes have become rampant characterized by destruction of government properties in government and private schools as well as the destruction of property of other students hence causing loss of life and bodily injuries. I pray that the suspects are given a deterrent sentence to bar others from committing similar offences,” Mr Angualia advised the court.

But the students pleaded not guilty to the charge with exception of defendant number 10, Vincent Dramaza.

As a result, the Koboko Grade One Magistrate, His Worship Peter Gukina sentenced Dramaza to one year in prison or pay a fine of shs600, 000 of which shs500, 000 will be handed to Maracha SS as compensation for the destruction caused.

Dramaza was sent to Gbukutu government prison to begin serving the sentence while four other suspects were released on non-cash bail of shs2m.

In a related incident, the court established that the18 suspects were minors and transferred them to Giligili remand home in Arua district. The rest were remanded to Gbukutu government prison.

The accused 05 07 19The accused Maracha SS students disemberking from a truck at Koboko Grade One Magistrate's court on Thursday. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY ANGUPALE

All the suspects on remand are expected to reappear in court after one week.

Reports indicate that the students allegedly became rowdy and protested the decision taken by the school administration to block them from going for athletics competition at Yivu secondary school in Yivu sub-county, Maracha district on a fateful day.

This is after the headteacher, Mr James Ondoa called for an assembly and convinced the students to stay in school, arguing that there was no official communication from the district sports department about the event.

“I was surprised by the rowdy students who rejected my advice by insisting that their time table was reading Yivu which was, of course, the venue for the athletics competition. They continued to cause confusion until they destroyed the facilities at the school,” Mr Ondoa narrated.

Mr Patrick Afimani, the in charge of the district athletics committee confirmed that they least expected the mayhem because July 1 was merely proposed for the competition by the games masters but it was not officially confirmed in writing to schools.