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Tricked, raped by a traditional healer

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th June 2012 01:11 PM

Rachael Lwayiga, 18, went to Sulaiman Batwala, to seek help in exorcising demons that tormented her, only to be taken advantage of and raped.

Rachael Lwayiga, 18, went to Sulaiman Batwala, to seek help in exorcising demons that tormented her, only to be taken advantage of and raped.

By Petride Mudoola 

Rachael Lwayiga, 18, went to Sulaiman Batwala, to seek help in exorcising demons  that tormented her, only to be taken advantage of and raped. 

He is now serving a 10-year jail sentence for forcing his way with her

Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. But for women who, for one reason or another fail to conceive, desperation exposes them to the wiles of traditional healers. 

From ladies desperate to bear children, to those who are job hunting and sometimes women desperate to charm their husbands, witchdoctors take advantage of them, lure them into their den and sometimes rape them. 

Rachael Lwayiga, 18, is a victim of rape. A resident of Siriira village in Luwuka district, Lwayiga’s search for relief from alleged recurrent demonic attacks led her into enlisting the help of a traditional healer, Sulaiman Batwala, 64. 

Having failed to find a remedy for her woes, Lwayiga’s childhood friend, Noah Isabirye, recommend the services of Batwala after she had spent colossal sums on other traditional healers. 

Batwala convinced his victim to stay for a night, having purportedly observed that demons are more aggressive at night than during the day. 

He could take advantage of the nightfall, he told Lwayiga, to trap the demons and cast away the spell that had troubled her for long. 

And as fate would have it, Lwayiga, while in the shrine, was allegedly attacked by demons. Batwala instructed her to undress and lie on her back, and told her that the spirits had authorised him to use his finger to insert the medicine into her vagina. Lwayiga initially refused to comply.

Batwala, perhaps realising that his trick might not work, threatened to tell her attendant that she had refused to receive medication. Under duress, the victim obliged to the demands and lay on her back, naked. 

She was sprinkled with a powder-like substance on her private parts, but instead of using his finger to push in the ‘medicine’ as he had earlier claimed, Batwala inserted his penis. 

When the victim bitterly protested, Batwala threatened to send more demons to her; completed his act and left her to sleep. 

Lwayiga’s attempts to leave the shrine were frustrated on several occasions and permission was only granted after she accepted to report for further ‘check-up’. 

When she got home, she reported the matter to the Police in Jinja, leading to Batwala’s arrest and subsequent prosecution.

On trial
Prosecution, led by Thomas Jatiko heard that Sulaiman Batwala, a resident of Iziru village in Buyengo sub-county, Jinja district, by means of false representation, forcefully performed a sexual act with an 18-year-old woman without her consent. 

Prosecution noted that the accused was fit to be the father or granddaughter to the victim, but instead acted like a beast when he chose to rape her. 

“Owing to the facts adduced in court, I pray that the accused be given a stiff sentence. Much as he is remorseful, a stringent sentence meted unto him would act as a deterrent for those contemplating such acts,” prosecution petitioned the court. 

However, the defence lawyer, Evelyn Kabonesa, pleaded with the court for leniency on account of Batwala’s advanced age and the fact that he was a first-time offender. 

Judgement 
In her ruling, Lady Justice Anglin Flavia Senoga observed that: “The offense is greatly disturbing and causes apprehension in public. Though the accused is a first offender, to give him caution would be trivialising the offense. There is need to protect the public who have a lot of trust in traditional healers, but instead abuse that trust.”

The judge noted that Batwala, who pleaded guilty, should not have betrayed the trust of his client who expected appropriate treatment from him. 

“You committed a serious crime by forcefully having intercourse with the victim without her consent, yet you were supposed to treat her. Such acts cannot be condoned by this court,” Senoga said.

She observed that a stiff sentence would send a clear message to the people of Batwala’s character and to reassure the public that court condemns such acts. 

The judge then handed Batwala a 10-year jail sentence. She, however, advised him to appeal in case he was dissatisfied with the verdict.

With various reports why then do women continue to seek the services of traditional healers?
-Women who are barren tend to consult traditional healers to help them conceive. Infertility in most African societies is like taboo, sometimes attributed to curses or angry ancestral spirits. 

-There are those who out to find the ‘perfect’ husbands while those already married, seek some of charms to keep their husbands loving them.

-The unemployed seek a witchdoctor’s services out of desperation, while others do it in order to secure their jobs. 

-Sometimes, the puzzle of life is too much for some women. They enlist witchdoctors for counsel. 

 

Tricked, raped by a traditional healer

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