DEPRIVED of all the property she had worked for over years by a traditional clan court, Beatrice Achola, 28 decided to take her life together with all her four children
By Bonney Odongo and James Opinya
DEPRIVED of all the property she had worked for over years by a traditional clan court, Beatrice Achola, 28 decided to take her life together with all her four children.
On Monday, Achola, the mother of four and a wife to Moses Olyel appeared before the Ogora clan court convened by her mother and father in-law who accused her of being a witch and an indiscipline woman.
Despite the fact that she also accused her mother in-law of practicing witchcraft, the clan court ruled against her. She was sentenced to 30 strokes of the cane and beaten before her children.
In addition to the strokes, the clan leaders allegedly grabbed one bicycle, sh80,000, three goats and a duck from her, something she felt was too much for her.
That evening, she cooked food laced with an insecticide used in indoor residual spraying and served it to the family.
After the meal, Achola and her four children identified as Lillian Achola, 11, Kizito Atim, 2, Denis Oryema, 8, and another child only identified as Ayugi were hospitalized at Pope John Hospital Aber in Oyam district in critical condition.
Ayugi and Atim died on arriving at the hospital while their mother died on Wednesday at while the two other children are still on critical condition. By press time one was in a coma according to sources at the hospital.
The medical director of Pope John Hospital Aber, Dr. Emmanuel Onapa said a postmortem they conducted on the deceased revealed that they ingested poison.
“Our investigation revealed that they ate Organo-Phosphate, a chemical which is used in indoor residual spraying,” Dr. Onapa said.
He said medical personnel were working hard to ensure that the lives of the remaining children are saved.
Manshur Suwed, the North Kyoga Police spokesperson said the case was reported at Kamdini Police Station under CRB 122. It was recorded as suicide case by the police.
He however said no arrest had so far been done, but a source indicated that five people including the deceased’s husband Moses Olyel, his father Christopher Oryem and three other clan leaders identified only as Ekuju, Okite, Onekalit and Ojok were in police custody.
One of the children still fighting for his life in hospital. Photo by James Opinya
Manshur warned clan leaders against mishandling the law in order to avoid such tragedies from happening.
Achola speaks out before her death
Achola before her death blamed the clan leaders; saying for long they have always been siding with the family of her husband in case of any domestic wrangle.
She said her husband always spends much of his time drinking alcohol, leaving all the domestic work and raising children to her alone.
“I have been working for these things on my own and whenever they grab it like this, it’s me who feel the pain because my husband doesn’t work for it,” she said in a low tone from her hospital bed.
Achola said she could have died alone but thought of the suffering her children would go through that is why she decided that she must die with all of them.
She noted that, even if she recovered, she was still going to look for another way of ending her life since she was fed up with unending accusations, allegations and humiliation before her own children by the members of her husband’s family.
Cultural leaders react
Dr. Richard Nam, the Prime Minister of Lango Chiefdom said the human rights regulations do not allow any clan leader to punish any clan member through beatings.
Instead he said clans should have better alternative ways of punishing their members who commit an offence that they feel is not in line with what the clan wants.
Jurubabel Opio Okori, the Minister of Culture in the Lango Cultural Foundation condemned the act, saying it was done out of total ignorance of the law.
Opio who is also the clan leader of Adok Oyengo Owo said if really the woman was indiscipline or was practicing witchcraft the clan should have adduced evidence of her wrong acts before her parents before she was given any punishment.
“Any form of punishment you are giving a member of the clan should not be degrading like the way this woman was beaten before her children and later robbed of her properties. This is wrong,” he said.
Mother of four robbed by clan court, kills self and children