Early last year, allegations of sex abuse in an athletics training camp in Eastern Uganda were brought upon a one Peter Wemali.
The accused was this shadowy character believed to have crossed the border from neighbouring Kenya with much more than a passport. Apparently, Wemali has the powers to cast evil spells on his enemies. How an ex-witch doctor ended up as athletics coach for the renowned Police Athletics club is something for Nollywood scripts.
On the other side was a number of girls, many of them under age, who run to national team captain Moses Kipsiro with allegations of sexual assault after ‘official’ avenues didn’t offer the help they should have. Kipsiro would be shocked by stories of police inaction, but would soon personally understand the gravity of the situation after he was promptly and mysteriously dropped from a team traveling to a Copenhagen meet then.
The accused, an employee of the Uganda Police and a key power player in the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) politics of Eastern Uganda, had connections and a power message was being sent out.
To this day, I refuse to believe that UAF could have condoned such behavior but their inactivity didn’t do them any good. For a year, we were unable to find out whether the girls were being denied justice or whether the coach was being wrongfully accused. Neither by the way did we get to know whether UAF was capable of managing this situation at all or were just letting it suffer death by diminishing public interest. In any case the net-effect was gross negligence.
All the while, all that this drama did, was to flicker off and on our moral-radar screens, animating us before typically fading out of the collective conscience of our short attention spans.
Then one day, not in the distant past, someone or people seemed to have woken up from a sleep induced by carelessness, impunity or both.
Finally, Wemali is being charged with defilement and rape of three female runners. It may be coming a year too late but at least action is being taken. So now Wemali will be punished for his actions or set free by his innocence.
I just believe that the inactivity of last year was just sending out a message of impunity which is plain wrong. Everyone ought to be held accountable for their actions even if it is believed that they have powers to cause motor accidents or send bees to sting their enemies. This to me is the biggest take home from this entire saga.
At last the law is being seen to take its course and UAF can be hailed for allowing that to happen as this wasn’t always obvious in the past.
And for the girls of Kapchorwa, they can once again start believing that the development of their talents shall be reliant on noble hard work and rather than a whimsical old man and his young-girl fetishes.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor