Kampala Serena Hotel is in the eye of the storm following allegations of theft of money and essential belongings of Ms Agenes Igoye, the Deputy chairperson of the National Prevention of Trafficking in Persons.
Mrs Igoye, who also works as the Training Manager at the Internal Affairs Ministry’s Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control has come out to accuse the hotel of mishandling a complaint she filed after she lost her bag at the Conference Centre at the close of last year.
The incident, she says, happened on December 29th 2022 at an awards event she was attending at the hotel.
She says her bag was grabbed from her seat when she and other guests were told to vacate Victoria Hall “for a meet and greet so doors can be opened at once.”
“Since all guests were stepping out, I left behind my camera bag and hand bag and doors were closed – all guests were outside and some Uniformed Serena staff left in the hall setting up the food by the sides of the hall. When the doors were reopened, I was among the first to get back in to reunite with my bags. One was missing and quickly, Serena Security notified. They came to inspect where the bags were and confidently said I should not worry-they pointed at one of the cameras and said it was so powerful, it scans the whole room,” Igoye recounted.
As the event went on, she says two men from the hotel security told her that they had retrieved and watched the footage of her entering the room and leaving. But they curiously left out the part where the bag was snatched
These men, Igoye says were “interested in knowing details of how much money was in the bag.”
Later after the event, she says one of the two men returned and told her that she would be briefly the following morning about findings from the footage.
When she insisted on seeing the footage herself, Igoye says she was told that “the rotating lights at Victoria hall darken at the point when you can’t clearly see a person picking the bag
“Then I insist I want to see the footage. He calls his colleague on phone and then tells me that actually, his colleague had not yet viewed that part but will continue viewing the footage the next morning. By now some colleagues and friends had joined us. ‘Let’s go see that footage’
But the Serena security man insisted his friend had left so we can’t be able to see the footage. People volunteered to use their cars to pick the CCTV security person but his colleague repeats that ‘it will not be possible’. We went back and forth but Serena security refused to help.”
That night Igoye says she filed a case at CPS Kampala, and that the following morning she tried in vain to speak to the Hotel General Manager.
On returning to the hotel, she says she was able to meet the Security Manager who suggested that she leaves her number behind to be contacted with further details. She declined.
“After about 2 hours he returns telling me he had viewed the footage several times and now he was ready to show me but I would not take the footage.
“We go to this CCTV room, two of us plus a uniformed policeman. We see the footage, with security manager on the computer navigating in segments of five minutes per footage material, until that part when am eager to see who picks the bag. The footage starts running very fast. I question why? He says that the camera is sensitive, when there is no movement it moves quickly. But there were no movements in some earlier segments, why didn’t it move fast? He did not know. At some point we see one of uniformed staff bending to pick something on the next table and the all of a sudden, the doors are opened and am seen getting to my table, searching for my bag in vain and getting back out to inform security. It was very upsetting, still is.”
Since then, Mrs Igoye says she has received no updates again from Serena Hotel.
When contacted, an employee at the hotel front desk said he was unable to speak on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Hotel Security Manager Mr Samuel Iranya told this reporter on phone that he was aware of the allegations but that he was in no position to speak on the matter.
“I cannot say anything to you because I don’t speak for the hotel,” he said.
However, Mrs Igoye says she is still following up the matter and wants other guests who have suffered a similar situation at the hotel to join her.