Are our children and homes safe with domestic workers? Part I

In many cases, people hiring domestic staff do not always make sufficient enquiries or receive thorough and accurate character references about them. The horrific murders and torture of children by so-called house girls illustrate this phenomenon.

The latest torture depicted in the media left most people who watched it sick in the stomach and bitterly crying in sympathy with the poor family and relatives who were directly affected by it.

The callous brutality and wanton violence inflicted on the young child who looked well nourished and groomed by her loving parents deeply affected everyone who saw the horror unfold.

Hearing the chilling cries of the victim caused by the brute masquerading as a house girl was very upsetting indeed.

Many Ugandans have had their own disappointments with domestic workers in varying degrees of gravity and deprivation, but the horror that was inflicted on the Kamanzi family when the life of their dear child was threatened was unprecedented.

May God the Almighty come to the aid of the Kamanzi family and quench the fire of anguish that must be burning severely in their broken hearts.

In small measures of disappointment, many Ugandans with children and homes have experienced unacceptable and sometimes horrors committed by domestic workers.

These anti-social acts and behaviour range from mistreating children and other relatives to abusing homes and domestic environment. These include crimes of thefts, torturing dependants to destruction of property.

Perhaps another story which is equally horrifying is the reported sequence of events that brought grief to a couple who loved a female relative and regretted very deeply about what she murderously inflicted on their children.
This particular brute of a woman was found by her caring brother to be suffering from HIVAids. She had been abandoned by her husband.

In an act of kindness and love, the brother invited her to move from her own hovel to his own comfortable residence where he, his wife and children would love and care for her.

She moved to the residence of her brother to live with his family. Weeks and months passed without any misunderstanding in the home. Thereafter, things changed dramatically.

The parents noticed that three of their four children were slowly losing weight and exhibiting symptoms of some illness. They took them to be examined by a doctor. The tests carried on the children revealed that three of them had the dreaded HIVAids disease.

Everyone was shocked. Parents were suspected to have passed it onto their children. The doctor examined the parents and found them to be healthy and free of the HIVAids. Thereafter, everyone was asking as to how the children came to be infected. The children were gently probed and what they revealed was horrifying.

They said whenever their parents were away from home, their paternal aunt would play a game with them. The game involved cutting her nails in such a way as to leave them bleeding. She would cut the nieces’ and nephew’s own nails in the same way.

She would then join their bleeding fingers with her own and squeeze so that her blood and each child’s would mingle as she told them that in their culture that is how love between relatives is strengthened. That is how the children got infected with HIVAids.
For some lucky reason one of the daughters was not infected by the aunt’s evil and murderous scheme, but her three siblings were infected with the dreaded disease.

One of the worst child abuse cases heard by the Uganda Supreme Court involved the fatal wounds inflicted on a nine-year-old girl in Jinja Municipality. Some locals in that region wrongly believe that if an HIVAids male has sexual intercourse with a young girl aged 10 years or less and ejaculates in her, he will be cured of the disease.

The appellant, a next door neighbour to the victim and her family, persuaded her to accompany him to the village well where they fetch water. One evening she agreed to go with him. The residents near the well heard a child screaming and yelling. They rushed to the well. They found the brute of a man on top of her, defiling her with great force.

When he heard her rescuers arriving, he intensified his horrible act in an effort to complete his mission in such a way that even after they arrived at the sight he continued the defilement as if possessed by the devil.

The rescuers had to forcefully pull him off the child. They found that he had used such force that her stomach had been ripped open and her intestines fatally damaged and protruding from her belly.

She was rushed to Jinja hospital but died from the terrible wounds while in the operating theatre. The man was subsequently charged and convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment.

He unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal for reduction of term of imprisonment. He then appealed to the Supreme Court on the same ground. We were horrified by his inhumane evil mind. We confirmed the decisions of the High Court and Court of Appeal but regretted that we had no legal powers to increase his punishment.

Prof Kanyeihamba is a retired Supreme Court judge.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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