Ottawa Citizen

‘Strong, lov­ing woman’ from Ot­tawa dies from in­juries in Uganda

Jus­tice De­part­ment ad­viser was with fam­ily on char­ity mis­sion to her home­land

- AN­DREW DUFFY Crime · Society · Canada News · Incidents · Ottawa · Uganda · Kampala · Africa · Kilby · Emilie Autumn

Ot­tawa pub­lic ser­vant Agnes Za­bali had re­turned to Uganda to mark the one year an­niver­sary of her mother’s death.

But a tragic road ac­ci­dent took Za­bali’s life be­fore she could reach her mother’s vil­lage, Ka­mengo, south­west of Kampala. It means Za­bali will likely be laid to rest be­side her mother in the Ka­mengo ceme­tery.

“She was one of those strong, strong, lov­ing women,” said her niece, Tina Hughes, of Ot­tawa. “She was al­ways fit and ac­tive. She was some­one who was al­ways work­ing, vol­un­teer­ing or cook­ing for other peo­ple.”

Za­bali, 53, a com­pen­sa­tion ad­viser with the fed­eral jus­tice de­part­ment, died Thurs­day from the in­juries she suf­fered in a road­side ac­ci­dent on Dec. 19.

She was hit by a garbage truck while stand­ing near a po­lice road­block in the Ugan­dan cap­i­tal, Kampala. Her legs were crushed in the ac­ci­dent and later am­pu­tated in hospi­tal. Za­bali, who un­der­went a sec­ond surgery ear­lier this week, suf­fered blood pres­sure and kid­ney prob­lems in hospi­tal. The wounds in her legs also devel­oped in­fec­tions, which led to sep­sis.

The lo­cal char­ity with which she vol­un­teered, the Canada-Africa Com­mu­nity Health Care Al­liance (CACHA), an­nounced that she had died Thurs­day morn­ing:

“It is with great sad­ness that I in­form you all that Agnes passed away to­day. Our hearts are with her fam­ily to sup­port them through this dif­fi­cult time.”

In an in­ter­view, Dr. Don Kilby, the founder of CACHA, called Za­bali “a strong and heroic woman.”

Za­bali came to Canada as a refugee in 1985 dur­ing the Ugan­dan civil war. She earned a di­ploma in busi­ness in­for­ma­tion sys­tems at Al­go­nquin Col­lege, then worked at sev­eral jobs in or­der to save enough money to spon­sor her sons, Jimmy, Cae­sar and Dove.

One of her sons, Jimmy Se­bu­lime, 34, an Al­go­nquin Col­lege grad­u­ate and CACHA em­ployee, suf­fered se­ri­ous head in­juries in the same road­side ac­ci­dent in Uganda, but is now re­cov­er­ing in a Kampala hospi­tal.

Za­bali had been placed on life sup­port for sev­eral days un­til Se­bu­lime had time to be made aware of his mother’s dire cir­cum­stances.

Se­bu­lime works as a fi­nance of­fi­cer for the aid or­ga­ni­za­tion and fre­quently trav­els to Uganda to help man­age med­i­cal mis­sions and devel­op­ment projects.

Za­bali of­ten ac­com­pa­nied her son on those aid mis­sions. She also raised money for water and school projects in her former vil­lage.

“Those are the val­ues she had,” said her brother, Richard Hughes. “Even be­ing here in Canada, she never for­got her home, and the peo­ple there.”

Ear­lier this month, five fam­ily mem­bers had trav­elled from Ot­tawa to Uganda to at­tend a me­mo­rial ser­vice for Za­bali’s mother, who died last year. In­cluded in the group was Za­bali; her sis­ter, Chris­tine; her son, Jimmy; her hus­band, Fred Ka­tende; and their daugh­ter, Ai­dah, 11, a stu­dent at Con­vent Glen Catholic School in Ot­tawa.

The ac­ci­dent hap­pened less than two hours af­ter they landed in the coun­try.

The group was trav­el­ling from the air­port to­ward Ka­mengo when they were stopped at a po­lice road­block. Ev­ery­one got out of their cars and stood at the side of the road.

“All of a sud­den, this garbage truck came from nowhere, from nowhere, and hit us,” Fred Ka­tende, a nurse prac­ti­tioner at The Ot­tawa Hospi­tal, said in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

Ka­tende was stand­ing next to the four peo­ple who were struck. A po­lice of­fi­cer and one of Ka­tende’s Ugan­dan neph­ews were hit, but their in­juries were not as se­ri­ous as those suf­fered by Za­bali and Se­bu­lime. Se­bu­lime suf­fered a skull frac­ture, a bro­ken jaw and a bro­ken arm, among other in­juries. He’s ex­pected to be re­leased from hospi­tal later this week.

CACHA has started a trust fund to de­fray the fam­ily’s health-care costs. They did not have travel in­surance and will not ben­e­fit from a car in­surance set­tle­ment.

 ??  ?? Agnes Za­bali died Thurs­day in Uganda from in­juries she suf­fered when she was struck by a truck.
Agnes Za­bali died Thurs­day in Uganda from in­juries she suf­fered when she was struck by a truck.

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