Gorreti Sylvia Atai paints a picture of a woman with great ambition in life.
Atai speaks with a typical Ateso accent punctuated with a decent form of English. The Quantitative Economics graduate from Gulu University, was set to introduce her fiance on September 6.
However, the 26-year-old resident of Bukedea District is now in hiding from home in a city suburb. Her body is parched with scars from cut wounds she sustained when clan mates descended on her and her family in April.
Atai now walks with difficulty and her dreams of getting married in a happier way are fast disappearing. The attack resulted in the death of her guardians, Dr Samuel Patrick Emunyeret and Stella Adeke Oluka.
On the evening of April 21, Atai narrates, Dr Emunyeret returned home for the Easter weekend. But he said on arrival, a group of people had tried to stop the boda boda he was riding on at Eyenber Trading Centre but they refused to stop, fearing that it was late and anything could happen to them. The family threw caution to the wind and took lightly what the head of the home had feared.
On the morning of April 22, after Easter, Dr Emunyeret suggested to his wife, Atai and one of his sons that they go and inspect their gardens just less than a kilometre away.
“When we reached the gardens, we saw a herdsman from a distance herding his cattle in a neighbour’s garden. We tried to tell him that the land had millet, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. As we talked to the cattle keeper, we were surrounded by four men from our village who were armed with pangas,” Atai narrates.
“The only thing they said was that we were speaking our last words,” she adds.
The attackers, Atai says, started cutting her guardian and his wife when she tried to scream and run away they ran after her and hacked her.
Dr Emunyeret died on the spot while his wife died in hospital days later.
Atai says after running about 300 metres away, she fell down from exhaustion.
By this time, locals had come to rescue them as the assailants took off. One of the residents, Atai says, used her phone to call her uncle Solomon Opio. Opio came in an ambulance to save the lives of his kinsmen, at least for those that still survived.
“An ambulance came. My father was pronounced dead but my mother and I were taken to Ongino hospital in Kumi District. However, mum was found to have sustained a brain damage and was transferred to another hospital from where she died,” Atai narrates.
As Atai lay on her hospital bed days later, she says the attackers, who she vividly remembers, continued patrolling the ward. Her attendants, who she told of the development, smelt a rat and informed the hospital administration. Atai also informed her aunt Sarah Asekeny and cousin Simon Okol who informed police about the issue.
Police visited Atai in hospital but the hospital attendants insisted they couldn’t guarantee her security so they opted to discharge her even before she could fully recover so that her health would be monitored from a safe private place.
Atai’s brother picked her from hospital, but since he didn’t have the necessary facilities to keep her at his home, he sent her to Lira to stay with an aunt.
“However, while in Lira, a brother of the suspects started calling me, threatening to harm any member of our family if his brothers were not released from police. I decided to switch off my phone but my relatives in Bukedea kept on telling my aunt that the threats targeted at my family continued,” she says.
Atai might be healing, but one wound that still hurts are the whereabouts of her brother and other siblings who deserted the home after the attacks.
Meanwhile, one of the the suspects had reported himself to the police and is under detention.
Atai moves to the city
The regional crime intelligence officer, Mr Patrick Aboku, says his office has received reports of threats to the family and police have asked the Resident District Commissioner to intervene in the matter.
“We got reports that the attacks were a result of land wrangles. We are told the attackers are clanmates of Dr Emunyeret who had a land dispute with them. The attackers are on remand at Soroti prison and the matter remains for court to handle,” he says.
Asked whether he is aware that the children of Dr Emunyeret are in hiding, Mr Aboku says obviously with the threats persisting and yet the family heads are dead, the children have to be scared. He adds that they are doing everything possible to have the family settled.
During this time, Atai says her body was not getting any better. She talked to a friend who gave her Shs150,000 to travel to Kampala and get better treatment. But that money was just a drop in the ocean.
“I went to CORSU in Entebbe for check-up. My hand was operated on. But for me to get good treatment, they needed Shs2 million,” Atai says.
That bill was astronomical. For a girl who had now lost both guardians, it was difficult to raise such money.
Her aunt in Lira Sarah Asekeny looked around for the money, she reached for a teachers’ saving in Teso and she got Shs2 million. That is how she has been able to get treatment.
“A policeman called Lambert Okello brought me to Kampala to get treatment and remain safe,” Atai adds.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor