A magistrate’s court in Njeru in Buikwe responded to the marriage of a 13-year-old pregnant girl to a 16-year-old boy by sending him to Bugungu remand home in Buikwe district.
Court urged Isaac Sande not to take plea because his offence is capital in nature and can only be tried by the High court. Prosecution told court presided over by Grade I Magistrate, Julius Mukanza that the accused teenager defiled his 13-year-old ‘wife’ between January and April 2015.
Prosecution claimed that in January, Sande married and later impregnated the 13-year-old girl yet ‘he knew’ it was an offence. A doctor’s report from Jinja regional hospital confirmed the girl Noor Kagoya is carrying a 4frac12 months’ pregnancy. Sande admits the pregnancy is his.
He allegedly committed the offence in his Mawangala A village in Nyenga sub-county, Buikwe district. Sande told The Observer separately that he is not to blame for the marriage but the girl’s mother who blessed their marriage.
“I wanted to tell the magistrate the truth but I was not allowed,” he said on April 17.
Sande recalled that in January, Naava Birabwa, the girl’s mother, invited him to her home and gave her daughter to him.
“She pleaded with me because she had nowhere to live with her children and no one was looking after them,” Sande claimed.
“Her elder children also supported the idea, saying they were all poor and had no one to help them survive,” he added.
A resident of Mawangala A village, told us in a separate interview that Birabwa (girl’s mother) had married off all her underage daughters because she lacked the means to support them. “She married off even her three elder daughters when they were underage. She is a helpless widow who doesn’t have even where to live with her 10 children,” a neighbor said.
Birabwa was remanded to Bugungu prison for allegedly procuring defilement. Investigations found that she aided Sande in committing the offence. Prosecution, led by Simon Kiwani, told court that Birabwa was solely and directly involved in the giveaway of her daughter. According to the girl’s statement made at police, Birabwa invited Sande to their home and she instructed her to go with him.
“Sande was my friend and at that time he was in love with my 16-year old elder sister. But when mummy gave out that sister to another man, she called him and gave me to him in replacement,” the girl told Njeru Division Police Commander (DPC), Chris Kigundu Katumba on April 9.
Birabwa however, firmly denies the charge. She said her daughter just left home and went to the boy’s home. She said she kept quiet about it because she knew the boy’s father.
“I have lived in Mawangala village for quite a long period and these are the people who have been feeding me so, I need them. I am a poor widow with a big family,” she told police.
The OC Njeru police station, Julius Tugumenawe, said they released the boy’s father because he had no case to answer. Godfrey Wandera had been arrested alongside Birabwa. Wandera, a casual labourer in Kampala, told police that he was not with his son when he married the girl.
He said he had spent six months away from home. “So, we found out that the father of the boy was not a party to the whole transaction but the mother of the girl,” Tugumenawe said on Saturday.
The African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Children against Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) took up the girl. Justine Namusubo, the ANPPCAN coordinator in Jinja, told The Observer on April 18 that they took the girl to Mukisa home in Entebbe.
“We took her there because there was no home in Jinja that looks after children who are pregnant. She needs a lot of care and support both psychologically and socially,” Namusubo said.
The girl’s father died in 2002 when she was a few days old. Her mother, with her 10 orphans, was reportedly chased from her deceased husband’s home by her in-laws.
Source : The Observer