STATE authorities in Kumi are dumbfounded with the case in which a 26-year-old businesswoman is accused of duping mourners to bury a doll after an alleged miscarriage, reports Tolbert Edait in Kumi.
Lillian Apio, who was briefly held by the Police, was released on bond. The resident state attorney is expected to give a legal opinion on the way forward.
It all started with a distressful night phone call when Apio alerted her brother, Joseph Osama, of a miscarriage. She asked him to arrange a burial as she travelled home with the body from a clinic.
â€œApio arrived a little after an hour on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) carrying the remains wrapped for burial. There were several mourners at home who offered to carry the body inside the house but she refused. She did not allow us to view the body, saying the nurses had advised her against exposing it since the skin had peeled off,â€ Osama said.
Osama immediately called Peter Ochan, who co-habits with Apio in Angopet Cell Bazaar ward in Kumi. Ochan, a driver in the town, doubted Apio had been pregnant and ruled out a miscarriage. Nevertheless, he okayed the burial, saying he was on duty far away and was unable to attend the funeral.
The mourners kept vigil throughout Sunday. On hearing the report on the state of the body, Apioâ€™s grieving elder sister, Hellen Amiti, collapsed and remained unconscious for about 30 minutes. Suspicion, however, mounted when Apio declined to have a warm bath as suggested by elderly women.
The women had argued that the warm water would â€œclean the wombâ€. To their utter horror, Apio remained glued to the mat, sobbing.
â€œShe kept so close to the bundle knowing that we would inevitably unwrap it to see the remains,â€ a mourner recalled.
â€œWhen her grandmother pestered her to unwrap the body, she ordered everybody out of the room and locked the door. This only escalated the fear that she could be out to plant some voodoo (juju),â€ said Domitila Ikiror.
In the meantime, Apio wailed inside the house, while calling the dead baby â€˜Priscillaâ€™. This once again surprised the mourners who wondered how the dead baby had been baptised.
â€œI carried you for seven months in vain. Now you have gone after hurting me, what do I do? â€ Apio cried out loud. The beans were eventually spilled when Apio defied the Iteso culture and personally lowered the remains into the freshly dug grave in the family cemetery. In such cases (burying a foetus), culture requires old women to be pallbearers.
â€œWe quietly granted her wish, with the intention to exhume the remains later in her absence. Our fears were confirmed four days later when we exhumed the doll,â€ said John Omoit, a senior clan leader of Ipasam-Oluroi clan in Mukura sub-county where Apio comes from.
The clan elders pleaded with her to delay cementing the grave, although she had already provided the cement. They wanted to buy time for the Police to swing into action. Medical tests on Apio for pregnancy proved negative.
For seven months before the â€˜miscarriage,â€™ Apio had been wearing loose-fitting garments over a bulging abdomen. Many believed she had suffered a miscarriage, but her behaviour during the well attended funeral gave away her secret.
Apio is a former convict who had been detained in Maluku Prison, Mbale. She has a five-year-old boy with another man and has had two miscarriages with Ochan.
The regional Police spokesperson, Juma Hassan Nyene, said: â€œWe cannot keep holding her beyond the stipulated period yet she connot be produced in court since the file is still with the state attorney for perusal.â€
Several women recently unsuccessfully pulled stunts similar to Apioâ€™s.
In January, Claire Nuru Namatovu, a 45-year-old woman in Nsangi in Mpigi, attempted to bury two dolls after duping her family
that her newly-born twins delivered
in Mulago Hospital had died. She was exposed after relatives insisted that the burial should take place only after cleansing rituals. Before the revelation, Namatovu and her husband Francis Nkungwa fulfilled cultural rites required of parents of dead twins.
Namatovu was charged and sentenced to a sh300,000 fine, or 12 months in jail.
In the same month, Maria Gorreti Nantongo, 29, of Makindye was arrested after she confessed to buying a foetus from a clinic for sh230,000, and then told her husband she had had a miscarriage.
Nantongo had wanted to prove to her husband that she could conceive. Smelling a dead rat, Nantongoâ€™s husband alerted the Police. Indeed, the medical check established that she had not been pregnant.
Kumi woman â€˜deliversâ€™ doll