By Davis Buyondo
The delayed hearing of a case in which 13 people are accused of murder and kidnap of a pregnant woman and her child has sparked off protests in Rakai district.
On April 11, 2014, the suspects appeared before Susan Awidi, the Kalisizo Grade I Magistrate, who remanded them to Masaka Prison until May 22, 2014.
However, the trial has delayed two months on, leaving residents of Kazinga Village and others of Kyarulangira Sub-county in Rakai district uncomfortable claiming the accused may possibly be released without trial.
Led by Amos Kamiyooni, the Kazinga C LCI chairperson, residents claim they have been waiting for the suspects to appear in High Court since May in vein without any explanation.
Kamiyooni said they are also worried that the case can easily be manipulated by corrupt officers to cause the suspects' release.
The suspects: Asafu Tumuhimbise (50) , Bosco Ssegirinya (59) , Alex Ssebala (20) , Aloyisius Kasujja (15)) , Mike Kabito (24) , Ronald Ssebufu (25) , Peregirino Mpozza (54) , Alex Ssemyalo (29) were charged with murder and attempted murder under CRB-RKI 474/14.
Others are Ramka Kaweesa (52), Ismail Ssekyanzi (42), Joziveriti Nuwagaba (38), Elimerida Nalubega (46) and Anna Maria Nabukenya.
The suspects are accused of hacking to death and eating a 21-year-old woman Peace Alinaitwe and her nine months old baby. Her husband Deus Bandihihi Kamuniini narrowly survived.
The incident happened on March 23, 2014 in Kyakirugu village, Kyarurangira Sub-county in Rakai district.
Bandihihi and his wife Alinaitwe, from Isingiro district, had gone to Rakai for a funeral could not go back at night. They instead sought shelter at Asaf Tumuhimbise's home where they were attacked and hacked.
Residents speak out
Maria Nakatte, a resident of Kankamba village in Kisekka Sub-county in Lwengo District said she wants a speedy trial for the 13 suspects who hacked and ate her daughter Peace Alinaitwe and grandson Kamuniini.
Nakate said that they want the Inspector General of Police and Kooki County Member of Parliament, Amos Mandela to ensure the suspects appear in court.
Bandihihi's uncle, Milton Baryamukyabu, told the New Vision they went to Masaka on May 22, hoping the suspects would be brought to court but it did not happen.
Baryamukyabu added that they went back to Kyarulangira disappointed because no one offered to explain to them why the suspects did not appear.
Matovu Henry, a teacher at Kazinga Primary School, said they are stranded since none of the concerned authorities has come out to highlight about the progress of the case.
He explained that they are still making arrangements to meet their area MP, Amos Mandela for assistance.
Resident State Attorney Explains Delay
When contacted for a comment, David Baxter Bakibinga, the Resident State Attorney for Masaka said the delayed trial came as a result of the case backlog in the country.
Bakibinga explained that they are still handling over 480 cases that were committed for trial and they are handling those that came first as the normal court procedure.
He added that most of the cases on trial include those of 2011 up to
2014 and appealed to residents to remain calm until when the suspected cannibals' case will reach trial.
However, Bandihihi the key witness against the suspects has not appeared in public since the case was committed to high court. He was moved to a safer location after unknown persons made an attempt on his life in a lodge in Rakai.
Bandihihi's attackers attempted to strangle him in his room before he raised an alarm that brought other occupants rushing to his aid.
Following his discharge from Rakai hospital, Bandihihi has since been in the safe custody of Kooki-County MP, Amos Mandela.
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