The case has provoked anger among Ugandans who say it reflects widespread abuse by security personnel, including beatings, detentions, and extortion that in the current climate are often disguised as the enforcement of coronavirus regulations.
The rider, Hussein Walugembe, had recently acquired his motorcycle and it was being driven by a colleague when it was impounded on Tuesday for violating a dusk-to-dawn curfew, regional police spokesman Nsubuga Mohammed said.
On Thursday, Walugembe came to the police station in the town of Masaka to claim the bike but was frustrated by some police officers who demanded he pay a bribe, Mohammed said.
After his pleas to the police officer responsible for traffic violations to release his bike were rejected, he doused himself with gasoline, which he concealed in a container in his jacket, and set himself on fire.
“He attempted to grab the officer, for them to die together, but he escaped with minor burns, leaving the victim behind,” the national police headquarters said in a statement.