An air of gloom hang heavily as mourners gathered to bury the head of Musa Wegulu who was recently mauled by a croc.
By Paul Kiwuuwa
MAYUGE - An air of gloom hang heavily as mourners gathered to bury the head of Musa Wegulu who was recently mauled by a man-eater crocodile.
It was an emotional sendoff at Gooli landing site on the island of Jaguzi in Mayuge district as the rest of Wegulu’s body was missing – eaten by the killer reptile.
His early-morning trip to the lakeshore to collect water several hours before was his last alive.
At his funeral, Bunya South MP Iddi Isabirye told grievers that the 34-year-old man was attacked by a croc at dawn while drawing water. It devoured all but his head which was later identified by locals at the landing site.
Last year, nine people were reported eaten by crocodiles in the eastern Uganda district, the MP said.
He said the most vulnerable people to the attacks are fishermen, children and women who collect water at the shoreline. As such, the legislator urged government to extend piped water to the fishing communities to safeguard them from the man-eating reptiles.
He named those reported killed by crocodiles as: Tom Owere(Jaguzi landing site), Isaka Nasiko (Kaaza landing site), Cossam Waira (Buluba landing site), Bosco Nyansi (Nakalanga landing site), Ibrahim Obera (Masolya), John Okumu (Kitumbezi village, Sserinya B), Godfrey Mugobi, Busui (Baitambogwe subcounty), Demeteriya Nabwire (Sagiti), John Wamala (Masolya landing site) and most recently Musa Wegulu.
Mayuge district is made up of eight islands including Jaguzi, Kaaza, Sserinya B, Bumba, Sagiti, Masolya, Ssimwe and Malongo.
The district vermin officer Alufunsi Ongom said Malongo is the top breeding location for crocodiles.
He said that when people disturbed the ecosystem, it aroused the wrath of the crocs, which have since turned hostile and attack more regularly.
“Two years ago government embarked on transferring the crocodiles from Mayuge to Adjuman district where it constructed a ranch for rearing them.”
Stunned residents look at a crocodile killed by Mubarak Batambuze after it ate his wife in Kaliro district
The latest fatal attack was reported to Bwonda police marine detach but local police said that many victims escape and do not report due to lack of transport and ignorance.
MP Isabirye said that the locals are threatening to poison the deadly reptiles if government fails to compensate the bereaved families.
Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) boss Dr. Andrew Seguya said the UWA Act protects and manages the crocodiles, saying that people invade the reptiles in their territories (waters).
Seguya explained that UWA, in conjunction with the fishing communities, will identify areas near the lakeshores to install strong cages to demarcate safe areas for people to collect water.
He said Mayuge district is a special case which needs urgent government intervention to extend piped water to the fishing communities. He cited Botswana where government extended piped water to the fishing communities to protect them from crocodile attacks.
Last week in Parliament, Bukooli islands county MP (Namayingo district) Okeyoh Peter asked the government to give financial support to affected families.
In response, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda referred the matter to the water and environment minister Maria Mutagamba to prepare a report. New Vision tried but failed to get a comment from the minister via phone.
Sam Opio, the LC1 chairperson of Kitumbezi village in Bukabooli sub-county, said the bereaved families want government to compensate the lives of their lost loved ones and those who have sustained disabilities as a result of the attacks by crocs.
His friend Godfrey Mugobi, a former fisherman of Busui village in Baitambogwe sub-county, was attacked by a crocodile in 2001. He survived, but lost his left hand to the reptile before being hospitalized for some six months at Jinja Hospital.
Opio gave another account of a similar attack in 2013 involving 25-year-old fisherman Patrick Omoit of Musoli village whose stomach was ripped open by a crocodile as he dived into the lake to retrieve his net.
Also related to this story
Brave Kaliro man kills crocodile that ate his wife
‘I watched a crocodile eat my body parts’
Is Uganda’s notorious crocodile the world’s largest?
10 people eaten by crocodiles in Mayuge – MP