By Davis Buyondo
RAKAI - The release of George William Wamala, 67, a man said to have defiled and later strangled a four-year old girl before dumping her body in a bush near his house, on bail, sparked off protests among residents in Rakai district.
The family of the slain victim and other residents of Kalisizo Town Council are disputing circumstances under which Wamala was released.
They further claim that his release has caused panic among them fearing that he may possibly attack some of the would-be witnesses.
Wamala, a resident of Kalisizo North, was arrested in August last year from his home by detectives who discovered Haliat Nakiganda's body on his property.
Immaculate Nabukeera (red hijab) the deceased's mother accompanied by other family members protesting Wamala's release. Photo by Davis Buyondo
The horrific incident happened on August 15, 2013 when a sniffer dog led the officers to Wamala's home several times which prompted his arrest.
He was consequently charged with brutal rape and murder of the minor on file CRB/535/13 and produced before Susan Awidi, the Kalisizo Grade One Magistrate who remanded him to Masaka Government Prison pending High Court.
Shortly after the incident, angry residents went on rampage and destroyed most of his property including banana plantations, animals and other properties they could lay hands on.
Wamala's incarceration put an end to a spiral of protests that had lasted for close to two weeks from the day of the murder.
But anti-riot police intercepted and dispersed the mob as it proceeded to demolish and set Wamala's house on fire.
However, residents were shcoked to see the suspect roaming freely in the same community eleven months after his incarceration.
Haliat Nakiganda (RIP) who was defiled and brutally murdered. Phot/Davis Buyondo
As a result, the victim's parents, Immaculate Nabukeera and Muhammad Ssembatya stormed police demanding an explanation why Wamala was released on bail without their notice.
Nabukeera said she is leaving in fear since Wamala's release adding that they have always received anonymous calls warning them to forget about the case.
Ida Nasolo, one of the shocked residents said it surprised her to see the suspect roaming freely saying it was unfair that the suspect's release was due to his financial status.
Safina Namutebi, another resident said that Wamala's release clearly attests to a common saying that poor people don't win cases. She also claims that Wamala's family must have used a lot of money to have him released.
Wamala denies committing the monstrous crime.
The New Vision has clearly established that Wamala was released on bail by Masaka High Court Judge Kibuuka Musoke on May 27, 2014.
His release was not known to residents because he has since been indoors until last week when he was seen roaming in Kalisizo.
But Nelson Sooma, the Rakai District Police Commander warned residents to desist from any attack on Wamala since the matter is already being handled by court.
How Nakiganda went missing
Nakiganda, a top-class pupil of Kiweewa Foundation in Kalisizo Town Council woke up and had breakfast on August 15, 2013 before her father Ssembatya sent her to buy air time at a nearby shop.
She did not go to school that day because she had completed her end of term exams.
At round 9:30am, Ssembatya, a popular metal craftsman in Kalisizo Town Council, got upset because the little girl had delayed to return.
Since the errand would only take someone between 5-10 minutes, he suspected she was playing with fellow children she probably met on the way.
Ssembatya sent some children to call Nakiganda but they returned worried because they failed to find her.
A joint vigorous search by the parents and residents took them close to an hour to comb through all possible corners for the missing girl. However the little girl was discovered dead.
She had been brutally raped by a heartless person she could probably have known very well. The unknown assailant wringed her neck and dumped her body in a small bush where was discovered.
The area police was called to the scene and a sniffer dog led them to a home of one of the most respected village elders, George William Wamala. The grey-haired Wamala is called "grandpa" by most of children in Kalisizo North community.
The dog traced the girl'ss body to Wamala's home more than six times prompting his arrest but he has since denied committing the horrible crime.
His wife Nanyonjo who was also interrogated by police gave them some information that slightly linked Wamala to the crime but she was released two weeks later after investigations.
Children raped by people close to them
Majority may be inclined to believe that women and children are sexually assaulted or raped by strangers.
But according to the District Probation Officer Susan Nakawojjwa, such acts are usually done by people known to victims.
These could be family members, teachers, friends and the ones they trust.
Nakawojjwa said that children are an easy target for rapists and ritual murderers because they are too weak to defend themselves due to fear.
She said that more than 35 cases of rape and defilement occur in Rakai every year but very few are reported because the victims are often threatened by their attackers.
Nakawojjwa explained that, to those sexually abused by family members, friends or neighbours, the victims are usually scared to speak out fearing that their parents and guardians may think they are telling lies.
She says that Lubowa's release has caused worry and fear among the victims' families.
Also related to this story
Suspect arrested over Rakai family attack
Another couple slaughtered in Rakai