Arinaitwe Ronald left his young brother and went to buy milk and eggs for their father’s kiosk. Three weeks later, he has never been seen again, writes Charles Etukuri
For Patrick Kaboyo, the last three weeks have been the most agonising for him and his family. He has spent sleepless nights searching for his son Ronald Arinaitwe, who went missing from their shop in Kabalagala.
“Arinaitwe was a student at Kennedy Secondary School in Kansanga. On the day he went missing, I had left them at the shop together with his younger brother Ronald Akandwanaho,” Kaboyo told Sunday Vision.
Kaboyo, who works with Handicap International, also runs a small kiosk in his neighbourhood
“On Friday August 17, the day he went missing, I left home early for work and left him and his younger brother preparing to go to the shop,” he says.
According to Akandwanaho, Arinaitwe left the shop and told him he was going to buy eggs and milk in the nearby depot. That was the last time he was seen.
“At around 6:00pm, I received a call from his younger brother informing me that my son had left the shop and had not returned. I dashed home and sat waiting,” Kaboyo says.
When by 10:00pm his son had not returned, Kaboyo started making calls to relatives and friends, but nobody knew Arinaitwe’s whereabouts.
A sense of gloom is evident as he describes how he has tried to get assistance from the Police to unravel the mysterious disappearance.
The day after his son’s disappearance, Kaboyo made a report to the Kabalagala Police Station referenced as SD/80/17/8/2012, but was shocked at the reception he was accorded.
“At the Police station, they told me not to worry, saying my son was a big person and would turn himself in. They told me to return home and give it four days.”
When Kaboyo went back to the Police station, he was given a letter that referred him to Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) for help. At CPS, he was tossed to the Police Headquarters and later referred to the Children Protection Unit. “They kept on tossing me from one office to the other,” Kaboyo narrates.
“It has been very disappointing as there is no clue pointing to what could have happened,” he adds resignedly. “I have not given up though the process has been painstakingly slow.”
Kaboyo says what began as an ordinary disappearance has turned into pain and suffering. “Some people have taken advantage of my son’s disappearance and cheated me. Some tell me that my son has been sighted in some places, only for the information to turn out to be false,” Kaboyo says.
Every time his phone rings and he sees an unidentified caller, he becomes anxious, hoping that it is his son or somebody who knows his whereabouts.
However, as he picks the call and listens, gloom always engulfs him when he realises it is someone different.
When the family advertised promising a reward to whoever had information about Arinaitwe’s whereabouts, fraudsters capitalised on their misfortune.
Two weeks ago, somebody claiming to be a Police officer attached to Kabalagala Police Station telephoned Kaboyo saying his son had been found in Kibale in a critical condition. He gave him two phone numbers. One was a number of somebody he claimed was the officer in charge of Kibale Police and another of a medical officer who heads Kibale Hospital.
“Sighing with relief, I immediately went to my boss and told him that my son had been found. The doctor told me he wanted money for fuel to transfer my injured son to Mulago Hospital. He told me that my son had been picked bleeding heavily and was unconscious. At that time, the threat of Ebola in Kibale was real and I begged him to take care of my son and keep him safe.”
“He insisted that I send money through mobile money, but my boss is the only one who saved me because I had already mobilised the money they wanted. She insisted that the doctor sends the boy to the nearest better hospital. Sensing their tricks had been found, the lines went dead.” Kaboyo reported the incident to Kabalagala Police Station.
While still at Police, another person called from Kayunga saying he was a taxi driver. He claimed that he had come across Arinaitwe injured and urgently wanted sh45,000 sent to his phone. Several other calls came from Masaka. Such claims have brought more grief to the family.
“Whoever knows about my son’s whereabouts should contact me or the nearest Police station. I am desperate.”