By Michael Odeng
KAMPLALA - A house maid who earlier this week pleaded guilty to torturing an 18-month-old baby has been further remanded to Luzira Prison until Tuesday next week.
Her case has also been transferred to Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court. She had returned to court on Wednesday for conviction.
Prosecution however, did not give the reason for transferring the case but the suspect’s lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi said that City Hall court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.
Tumuhiirwe was remanded after her case was transferred. (photo credit: Eddie Ssejjoba)
Jolly Tumuhiirwe, 22, who was captured in a video that went viral battering a helpless toddler -- Aneela -- pleaded guilty to torture charges on Monday.
She now faces a 15-year jail term for her actions.
Earlier this week, she appeared before City Hall Court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende and admitted torturing the baby, daughter of Eric Kamanzi at the residence of her employer in Kampala.
'I accept the offence'
When she showed up in court on Monday, Tumuhiirwe who was clad in a floral lemon-green top with a black-stripped skirt and looked rather calm, appealed to the parents of the child, the court and the general public for forgiveness.
She also apologized for her action and admitted she did not know what had gotten to her to attack the child at the time.
"I accept the offence, but I beg court and every person to forgive me for what I did," she said in a fully-packed court after the charges where read to her and had confirmed that she had understood them.
At the time, Tumuhirwe was not represented by a lawyer during the proceedings.
In court, this woman and her neighbor broke down in tears upon seeing the nanny. (photo credit: Eddie Ssejjoba)
Can change plea
During the initial proceedings, after the maid had pleaded guilty, the prosecution team led by Resident State Attorney Joyce Ayebale asked the court for more time to study the file and find out whether the accused had a previous criminal record.
The magistrate later sent her on remand in Luzira Prison due a mid-week reapperance.
Technically, it was expected that when the maid appeared in court again on Wednesday, she would be free to change her plea, but if she maintained the plea of guilty, then she would be convicted and sentenced.
Tumuhirwe was charged with torture under section 4 (1) of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act.
According to the law, any person who commits an act of torture is liable to imprisonment for 15 years on conviction.
The distressing incident was captured in a video recording by a concealed CCTV camera which the baby's father Eric Kamanzi submitted to the Police as proof of their [parents'] accusation against the maid.
In the video, the maid -- who was later found to be of sound mind -- appears to be beating the baby with a torch on the face after trying to feed her.
When the child starts vomiting, Tumuhiirwe is seen throwing her on the floor of the living room. She then beats her with before stepping on the baby's back several times as the toddler wails in pain on the floor.
Luckily, the toddler was later subjected to medical tests and found to be fine.
City lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, who is representing the maid, told journalists outside court that her client made a plea by error and that she will have to do it again. (photo credit: Eddie Ssejjoba)
Erick Kamanzi, the father of the baby, speaks to journalists outside the City Hall court on Wednesday. (photo credit: Eddie Ssejjoba)
Charge not amended
After the incident went public, gender ministry officials wanted the charges changed from torture to attempted murder which carries a sentence of life imprisonment.
The DPP's publicist, Jane Okuo Kajuga told New Vision that they did not amend the charge to attempted murder because they received the file on Monday (this week) from police. She added that they were still studying the file.
"Right now the maid has pleaded guilty. We are reviewing the file to get a clear position of the case," she said.
According to the police, the case was reported by the girl's father on November 13 at Kiwatule Police Post after he had viewed the footage of the CCTV camera.
The maid was first charged with an offence relating to domestic violence at Kiira court.