First, it was the breast that triggered Abdullah Kasendwa’s curiosity. Kasendwa stole a glance as Nakabazi gently pulled her blouse to expose her breast. She then nervously covered it. Shyly, he too looked the other side. When she pulled the blouse up again to pick the second breast, Kasendwa could not resist having a second chance.
Twice his eyes had landed on the long thin breasts.
“They were unbelievably thin,” Kasendwa said.
Even the baby she was carrying rejected them and demanded better.
Nakabazi pulled down her blouse and attempted to calm down the baby in vain.
Kasendwa had noticed something strange – a mother with scrawny breast and a baby pushing away a breast when it’s hungry. What he had seen, not even the mothers around had discerned.
Kasendwa and his village-mates had met the woman who was a stranger in the village at Katovu in Lwengo District soliciting money to transport her to the nearby district. She claimed she had lost her money on the way. Her moving story and cries of the baby had touched many who contributed money for her transport in droves. The baby’s continuous cries worried Kasendwa. There was something amiss.
“I had never seen thin breasts. I said to myself that the woman may not be the mother of the child,” he later said. “I asked the woman whether the baby was indeed hers and said it was hers.”
Others seemed unbothered but Kasendwa wanted to dig more. He suggested the woman and the baby be given the money but also be taken to the police for better health.
The residents reached a consensus but Nakabazi looked puzzled.
“She said she would go to police by herself because she didn’t want to bother those who had helped her,” Kasendwa said.
The concerned residents did not seem it as a bother they were honoured to accompany her to police.
A suggestion turned into an order and in no minute, they were at the village police post.
Police noted down the baby and parents’ names, where they were coming from and going.
Kasendwa told detectives he doubted Nakabazi was the baby’s mother because her breasts did not look like those of a woman who had just had a baby.
Since Nakabazi claimed she had given birth a few weeks ago, the officer-in-charge chose to take her to the main station where there is a nurse who would examine her to confirm if she had just given birth.
Nakabazi thought Nakazibwe (the baby’s mother), being below age of consent, would not seek police’s help because of a defilement case that would be filed against her (Nakazibwe’s) boyfriend.
Ms Sophy Neboshi, Lwengo District Investigations officer, who received her, says even at the police station she insisted that the child was hers.
“She identified herself as Eseza Nakabazi. I asked our nurse to examine her. When they came back, the nurse told me that she didn’t see any signs that Nakabazi had just delivered,” Ms Neboshi says.
In no minute, she was behind bars. A police nurse took over the baby.
“We quickly prepared milk for it. When a feeding bottle was put near its mouth, it was obvious the baby was hungry,” she recalls.
Police opened a case of suspected child theft against the woman as they carried out investigations to establish whether she was the biological mother.
A message was sent to different police stations in the region to find out if there was any person who had reported a case of a stolen or missing baby.
Of the several messages sent, only one post responded. Shakira Nakazibwe, an underage mother, had reported a case of child theft at Kalegero Trading Centre in Lwengo District. The baby had been stolen the day before by a friend she had worked with in a bar in Lyantonde Township in Lyantonde District.
Police officers were ordered take the victim to the main station for an identification parade.
“I have never seen a person drowned in so much joy as when the victim saw the baby. Both connected immediately and it quickly sought for the breast, clasped it and suckled,” Neboshi recalls.
The nurse examined Nakazibwe and confirmed she had given birth recently. She was taken for an identification parade and quickly identified Nakabazi as a friend who helped her watch her baby as she worked.
Nakabazi was dumbfounded she did not think the baby’s mother would show up.
“She went silent. She didn’t look us straight in the eyes. She also gave up trying to pretend she was the baby’s mother,” the officer says.
Now she had a lot to explain. She was willing to tell her story.
Nakabazi told detectives she had got herself a new boyfriend – a very rich man as per the standards of Lwengo District.
Nakabazi’s boyfriend needed just one thing to complete everlasting bliss – a child.
“If you ever give a child, all that belongs to me will be yours,” her boyfriend often told her.
Having had six children before she met her new love, she did not think conceiving a seventh child would be impossible. However, age had caught up with her. In her early 40s, having a child was a tricky venture.
Nevertheless, she accepted and the baby project kicked off. Many months went by and the search for a baby had not yielded any fruits. Soon it became a cross that she could not carry anymore.
Her boyfriend was losing patience. He threatened to quit the relationship. Nakabazi pleaded for more time.
Nakabazi secretly turned to a herbalist for assistance. The herbalist examined her and diagnosed the fault in her body. She needed a concoction of herbs to power her ovary to seize the sperms as quick as they swam toward it.
They agreed that payment for the concoction would be made after the efforts had yielded fruits. A month later, she missed her menstruation period.
The results were positive – so she thought. A bulge on her belly threw her boyfriend into excitement. Love was reignited.
As months went on, Nakabazi got a discomfort that she thought were labour pains. However, when she went for a short call, the bulge disappeared. She panicked.
“I realised I wasn’t pregnant,” Nakabazi says.
Pushed to the wall
Her quest for wealth was now hanging on a thread. She collected herself and thought of what she could explain to her boyfriend who was eagerly waiting for the new-born. Nothing!
She had run out of choices and time. If the boyfriend found out she was unable to bear children anymore, he would quit the affair. She was to drop back to the “vicious cycle of poverty”.
She had to make a way out of nowhere.
On November 13, 2014, she visited a 16-year-old friend Nakazibwe, who had just delivered seven days back at Kalegero Trading Centre in Lwengo District.
Nakazibwe and Nakabazi became friends when they were both working in a bar in Lyantonde Township in Lyantonde District.
As they chatted, Nakabazi took the baby away from Nakazibwe and held it. This gave Nakazibwe time to do work she couldn’t do with the baby.
Nakazibwe says she went to the neighbourhood only to come back when Nakabazi had disappeared.
“I looked for her around but couldn’t find her. I thought she had gone to the neighbourhood looking for me. So I waited for her to come back,” Nakazibwe told police.
When she realised Nakabazi would not come back, Nakazibwe summoned neighbours whom she briefed about what had happened. They made a quick search that did not yield fruits.
“I spent the entire night crying. My baby hadn’t breastfed,” she said.
Nakabazi told police after running away from the home with the baby, she discovered she had lost the money meant to pay for her transport fare.
She couldn’t turn back. She spent the night in an abandoned house at Katovu.
Early in the morning, Nakazibwe reported the mater to police. Police too could not do much other than looking for Nakabazi to understand the motive of her taking away a baby that wasn’t hers.
As police were hunting her, she was busy soliciting funds to run away.
Fortunately, she landed on a man who could tell the difference between a breast of a nursing mother and one who was not.
On November 21, 2014, armed with a confession, Lwengo police took Nakabazi to court. She did not waste court’s time she pleaded guilty and was convicted. She pleaded for lenience since it was her first criminal case.
Court said she needed to spend some time in jail to reform. She was sentenced to three years in prison.
The man who she wanted to impress did not save her from jail, and has never set foot in the prison premises to visit her.
Why would one steal a baby?
The typical abductor is a woman who might have miscarried and appeared pregnant. She is often not living with her partner and has planned the baby “to get him back’’. When she miscarries she goes in search of another baby.
However, experts stress that the cases are extremely rare. Reports indicate that the abductors, who are always women, tended to be people who have been let down, usually by a man, or suffered a set-back such as a miscarriage or a failure to conceive.
“The cases tend to figure around the break-up of a relationship or a loss of some kind. The woman may even be deluded that she has a baby. She may go through a phantom pregnancy. Some women pad themselves out to please a partner.”
Police sources say the abductors tend to be sensitive, vulnerable people who have had unhappy experiences which involve being let down or deserted.
“Ordinary people will cope with a lot of distress. They grin and bear it or try for adoption or for infertility treatment, depending on their circumstances. These women invariably turn out to have had a chequered life history and the break-up or the miscarriage is the latest in a succession of onslaughts, insults and mishaps.”
“They treat them as their own. If a couple had snatched the baby one would worry that the motive was a bit more malign.”
Recently, cases of child sacrifice have also been cited as cause.
The eleven month-old baby was kidnapped and killed in 2010.The baby was handed over to his murderers by his nanny Molly Nabaasa. At the time of his kidnap, Kakama is reported to have been left in the custody of Nabaasa, while his parents had gone to work.
The househelp and her accomplice Godwin Tumusiime recorded extra-judicial statements confessing to abducting the boy for a ransom but later suffocating him.
Justice Mwondha handed Mellon Nabaasa and Brian Sajjabi , another accomplice, 50-year-jail sentences after they were found guilty of killing and kidnapping the boy.
Tumusiime was handed a 30-year-jail sentence for pleading guilty to charges of killing and kidnapping.
Arafat Bwire, a three months-old baby of Buikwe District was stolen from its parents’ home in Mbiko, Buikwe District in 2009.
Zaina Nakamatte, Bwire’s mother, had left him at home to pick money from her husband. On coming back, she found her baby missing.
Police later found out that their neighbour was responsible for the theft. She was tracked and arrested in Namugongo, Wakiso District. The suspect told police she had asked the mother to let her lie to her boyfriend that she had a baby. The case was resolved before it went to court.
The four-year-old boy was suspected to have been stolen from Rubaga Division, Kampala, around 2008. He was found four years later in Masaka District in Mary Nandawula’s home. Detectives concluded that it was not child theft but a case of a child who had run away from an abusive home and ended up in Nandawula’s home. No criminal action was taken against the two parties.
Six month’s baby
A man was found with a baby during the time when child stealing where rampant.
When curious residents confronted him, he dropped the baby at Kibuye Roundabout and took off. They suspected him of being a child thief. He was pursued and arrested. He identified himself as Henry Bisaso.
It was later discovered that he was the baby’s father but had a mental problem. He was released and the case closed.
An eight-year-old Tanzanian was stolen from his aunt’s home in Arusha in June, 2010, and brought to Uganda. Police was found him alive in Kampala. Those who kidnapped him were arrested and convicted. They are still serving their term in Luzira Prison.
One day-old baby
Justine Namutebi’s baby was stolen from Masaka Hospital on October 1, 2014.
Police arrested Betty Namanda, 45, who was running away with the baby in Masaka town.
She was arraigned before court, pleaded guilty and sentenced to three years.
She is still serving her term.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor