It does not matter if cannibalism exists or not. For as long as its allegations lead to mob justice, evictions, death and destruction of property belonging to people who are not given a chance to prove their innocence, it is a big problem. Both the victims and communities who evict them claim the Police is not providing ample security.
In this sixth part of the cannibalism series, Hope Mafaranga, Joseph Baguma and Geoffrey Mutegeki take us to Masindi, where the problem is hurting village peace, productivity and fuelling tension.
He was forced to abandon his primary school in Isimba parish, Mirya sub-county for another, 8kms away, because schoolmates called him a cannibal.
The 13-year-old boy (name withheld) said parents had warned their children against playing with him because they suspected his grandfather, Sepiria, of cannibalism; and the suspicion also spread to him.
“Children were laughing at me, calling me names and refusing to play with me,” the boy from Kisabagwa, Pakanya sub-county said. “Even if I had some food and wanted to share with others, no one would touch it because they thought I had mixed it with human flesh,” he added.
Sepiria Akiiki Baguma, who grew up in the area, said Sepiria’s family was the most dreaded in the area. “When we were growing up, people used to say Mzee Sepiria of Kisabagwa was a cannibal,” he said.
“In 1993, we were pupils of St. Jude Primary School, which was 12 miles from our home in Kaasenyi Bokwe, Pakanyi subcounty.
One day, as we returned from school, it began to rain. However, we soldiered on and did not seek shelter in any home because many people in the village were suspected cannibals. Our father had warned us against seeking shelter, drinking water or eating food at Sepiria’s home or any other in the village,” Baguma said.
Sepiria died, but his family is still feared. Rauliano Wabyoona, 50, the local council secretary of Kisagwa village, said when Sepiria died, the village stabilised.
“There was another woman, Eliza Kahenda, who took over, but we destroyed her home and expelled her from the village. Since then, we are peaceful.” When Saturday Vision visited Sepiria’s home, the people who were there refused to talk.
Police speak out
The Police said despite several complaints, they could not do anything because the complainants lacked evidence. The community liaisons officer of Masindi Police Station, Solomon Mugisa, said they regularly received complaints of suspected cannibals, but lacked proof.
In Bujenje County, a man was expelled from the village and his property destroyed for alleged witchcraft two months ago. In the same month, pupils of Marongo Primary School burnt a house of a suspected witchdoctor, accusing him of cannibalism.
“The children were possessed; they went on rampage and destroyed the man’s houses and property. But the Police saved the situation,” Mugisa said. He thinks witchcraft is real, but discourages people from practicing it.
“Our community should desist from witchcraft. It hinders development. It can lead to death and destruction of property,” Mugisa said.
The officer-in-charge of the station, Pascal Asiimwe, said they do not act on allegations, but on proof of crime committed, unless there is proof that a crime could occur as a result of the allegations.
Cannibalism is in rumours in Hoima