Year Three student Phillipa was walking on Sir Apollo Kagwa Road on her way back to the hostel after her classes at the university when she first spotted the dark, lean gentleman. She noticed him because he held her gaze a few seconds too long for a passer-by but thought nothing of it until she met the same man as she came to her hostel gate in Kikoni off Makerere campus some minutes later.
This time he greeted her and initiated a conversation asking about what she was pursuing and what year of study she was in. He seemed pleasant enough, and she willingly gave Alex, as he introduced himself, her phone number. Three days and several phone calls later, Alex suggested they spend some time together but Phillipa though not averse to the idea of meeting him did not feel ready to be alone in a room with him and she turned this proposal down.
He then suggested they meet elsewhere. That evening Phillipa set out to meet him at Wilsen Hotel in Kasubi. Despite its proximity to the bustling shopping centre, the high wall with climbing plants give the inside an isolated feel. Phillipa says she was not alarmed by this as she thought they were headed for the bar and restaurant not the accommodation part of the four storey building.
But Alex seemed to have other plans saying the back of the building would be more comfortable. The 24-year-old is unable to tell which of Alex many reassurances and excuse got her to drop her objections and follow him. That he needed privacy as his job in security was sensitive or that the back was but another sitting area such as the front if more isolated.
She soon realised she had no business trusting this man when he stopped outside a room with a neatly made bed and not much else. But it was too late and her attempts to resist were no match to Alex’s iron grip as he dragged her into the room. Gone was the sweet natured man she had known until a few minutes before. In his place was a man who snarled “We are two grownups, and since it is even during the day, people will assume you came knowing what to expect, and then both of us will end up in Agaataliiko Nfuufu. No one will come to your aid,” when she threatened to scream. Indeed, a worker at the hotel only stared bemusedly as the two struggled.
After bolting the door, Alex went ahead to tear off her clothes and force himself on Phillipa several times at some point strangling her and threatening to harm her if she continued fighting him. Done with the despicable act, Phillipa bitterly recalls how he took pictures of her still in the nude. He then forced the sobbing Phillipa to take a shower after which he kicked her out.
When Enid med Eric
Enid still regrets accepting to meet Eric, a dark gentleman that she had known only for a few hours at a bar and restaurant around Multitech near Nana Hostels in Nakulabye on November 16. Eric later lured her to the room under the pretext her that he was residing.
By the time Enid’s doubts were confirmed, Eric let her know it was too late and went ahead to sexually assault her. He also took her nude pictures, took her phone and taunted her that now she would not be able to reach anyone to ask for help. Later he dragged her to the shower and that was the last the 23-year-old saw of him. There was no trace of him or her phone when she came from the shower.
Julia and Martin
This 19-year-old Year One student was walking past the university sports grounds as she headed home to Namungoona in Wakiso District from where she commutes every day. A man she had noticed walking behind her initiated conversation, disarming her by asking if she looked so serious all the time. He introduced himself as Martin, a former student at the university.
When he suggested that they sit down for some refreshments and pork at a place near Chez Johnson Nakulabye for some time before she went home, she saw no harm in it and accepted. Unknown to her, the refreshments story was just a ruse and once at the facility, he booked a room instead. When Julia expressed discomfort at her surrounding, it was the same old story. Martin who had come off as the type in whose mouth butter wouldn’t melt menacingly telling her to behave or he would be forced to hurt her. “He kept telling me I am a big girl and should not give him so much trouble,” she says. After raping her repeatedly and again taking nude pictures of her, he ordered her to go to an adjacent room and shower.
Julia though traumatised suspected Martin wanted to make off with her bag which contained a laptop and two phones. So she wrapped a towel around her and appeared to comply and but grabbed her bag and ran out with it. She says Martin gave chase and tried to take the bag from her but she raised an alarm which attracted other people. Martin then made a hasty exit and left her to try explaining why she was standing in a towel to the curious group. She later returned to the room to get her clothes and left.
These three girls and two others were able to report to the university clinic on various days in November seeking post rape care. Though they never met, the similarity of their stories was enough to cause one member of staff who alerted us. All five received and are still on medication to eliminate the chance of conceiving as well as infection with HIV.
But they are not out of the woods yet. They are grappling with the side effects of PEP drugs which they have to take for a month, and also live with the trauma of the rapes. “The trauma is a long term consequence,” says Ms Justin Kigongo, a counsellor at the university hospital.
They also do not know who else this man is preying on, or where the nude pictures of each of them in his possession will end up.
The OCCID Makerere University police post Crispus Mangeni said for now the police can only try and track the phone of the girl who reported the case. But as for establishing whether it was the same perpetrator, it is difficult with only one girl’s statement. “We cannot force the girls to come to the station and report the case,” he said.
The deputy Dean of students at the University Stephen Kateega, said he was not aware of the incidents and expressed his surprise at learning the number of girls affected. He however acknowledged the need for more sensitisation among students on safety and how to take care of themselves at the university. He also emphasised the need for students to look out for each other as part of the way forward.
“Young people experiment a lot these days. The rape cases are probably instances of an experiment gone wrong,” said Kateega.
Alex, Eric, Martin. Same man?
The choice of meeting places is similar. Bars and restaurants which also have accommodation facilities. Usually not far from the place he meets his victims.
The five girls said he seemed to have been trailing them for some time, or they had noticed him at least once before he started conversation. He also seemed to meet all of them as they walked to or from campus and made it seem like a chance meeting.
Alex Martin and Eric have been described as of dark complexion, of average height, and a lean build as that of a man who works out. None seems to recall anything particularly distinctive about his features, but the descriptions are all in agreement that he is in his late 20s or early 30s.
He takes nude photos of the girls.
He has been known to threaten or use violence once he has the girl in the room.
He takes away or at least tries to take away his victims valuables, usually phones.
He forces the girls to shower after raping them.
The victims said they met the man who later raped them around Makerere University.
UNIVERSITY BY DAY, CRIME DISTRICT AT NIGHT
An average of 50 robbery cases is reported daily at the Makerere University police post. A big percentage are laptops and phone thefts. The actual robbery takes several forms including gangs that operate on several parts of the university between 8pm and 5am. The area around the Small Gate which connects Wandegeya and the university is one of the spots known to be dangerous for those walking unaccompanied. Raymond Kato whose room overlooks the said entrance has witnessed a number of robberies. “They work in threes and spread out to await their victims. Once they spot someone, they pounce and beat them unconscious before making off with their valuables,” says Kato who admits he has been a helpless onlooker as he is afraid to put his own life in danger. “There are also cases of students depriving each other of their property. It is hard to keep track of the student suspects because once the students get their property they drop the case and the suspect is released, goes into the society and continues stealing,” says Mr Crispus Mangeni, the OC CID of police, Makerere University.
The Deputy Dean of Students, Mr Stephen Kateega reveals that regular meetings between the dean of students and the hall wardens are held where issues regarding the students’ welfare are discussed. Mr Kateega says, there is increasing demand that students are sensitised. He however emphasises that the police would be in better position to address this issue. “The police patrol is active but given that the police are few, they cannot be everywhere at the same time,” Mangeni said, .
Though each of the girls had the presence of mind to visit the clinic as soon as they could after the rapes, they were hesitant to report. Only Phillipa after much convincing filed a report at the Makerere Police Post case number SD REF 10903122014.
Julia’s friend who was privy to her ordeal attempted to reach Martin by the number he had given and it was switched off. Phillipa who had also interacted with him over the phone for some time got a rude shock when she tried to reach him through the number she had used as it has been off permanently.
Though his face and other details such as his shoes even his smell and voice are permanently etched in her brain, none of the girls has seen this man ever since.
When we visited Wilsen Guest House where Phillipa last saw him and inquired for records Ssemusolye Timothy, a receptionist informed us that they make records for rooms, not people. He notes that they usually ask for identification documents but if the clients do not have, then they will accept and give the client a receipt anyway. “Some clients just decline to give their identification documents because they prefer being secretive” says Ssemusolye
The fact is Wilsen is not the only guesthouse there or in the city where one can get a room without producing proper identification and that at an affordable price. The areas surrounding the university are chock full with such places where a room will cost around Shs20, 000 to Shs30,000 and anonymity is a guarantee.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor