Hundreds witness coach Wemali court appearance

KampalaKapchorwa. Athletics coach Peter Wemali was on Thursday evening remanded for two weeks. The coach, accused of defiling and raping three national runners, was not allowed to enter plea after the mention of his case by Grade One Magistrate, Hood Matovu.
Several national runners, from Kapchorwa, Kween and Bukwo districts, were among the close to 500 people, present during the coach’s eagerly awaited court appearance at the Kapchorwa Chief Magistrate’s Court. Business in Kapchorwa town was paralysed.

The courtroom was filled to raptures with virtually no breathing space in the interior, veranda and compound. “The interest in this case is so high. People can’t wait to see the outcome,” Kapchorwa District sports officer, Tunde Musao, told Saturday Monitor.
Wemali, who last week told this newspaper he doesn’t fear being arrested, was picked up from Kibuli Training School on Wednesday afternoon. Sipi Regional Police Commander, James Ruhweza, ordered the coach’s arrest after medical tests on the three runners proved they were defiled. The girls are aged 15, 16 and 17 respectively. Ruhweza said they are tracing another runner, who was reportedly impregnated by the coach but later forced to abort.

Wemali was transferred to Kapchorwa in the wee hours of Thursday morning. He appeared calm on arrival and was later made to record a charge and caution statement at Kapchorwa District Police Station. After being led to court on a Police Patrol pick-up car in the afternoon, however, Wemali’s calm demeanor deserted him. On seeing the hundreds of people in the court premises, the Police coach, cut a worried posture. At some stage during the court session, he held his forehead with his handcuffed hands and his eyes appeared teary.
Wemali has been in the spotlight since March last year when members of the national junior female team accused him of sexually harassing them during a training camp in Bukwo ahead of the Africa Cross-country Championships. The runners confided in team captain Moses Kipsiro, who asked Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) to fire him. UAF instead turned the guns on Kipsiro by dropping him from the national team that represented Uganda at the World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Despite earlier written complaints from Police Athletics Camp female runners indicating that Wemali was sexually harassing them, UAF said they cleared the coach after investigations. Police, who until recently employed Wemali as the head coach at their training camp in Kapchorwa, also acted indecisively but Ruhweza intervened after a stakeholders meeting during which the abused girls revealed their horror experiences with the coach.
A Police investigations report, which had never been made public until last week, indicated Wemali made sexual aances towards a female runner and used vulgar language during training sessions. He returns to court on April 30 at 9am.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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