Sunday March 13 2016

The love triangle that ended in an acid attack

Wamini’s accomplice,  Negesa Namahonge, pours

Wamini’s accomplice, Negesa Namahonge, pours acid on Kasakya as Wamini looks on. Illustrations by Cosmas Arinaitwe 


When Norah Kasakya was invited by her former lover to go for an outing, she didn’t know he had ill intentions.
It all started when Idi Wamini, a resident of Bukasya in Mbale District, invited her on August12, 2014 to go at Premier league lodge in Malare Trading Centre, Bukasya Sub-county in Mbale District. The aim was to end his former lover’s life with acid.
Kasakya was married to Abdullah Maasa, a resident of Nakaloke village, Nakaloke Sub-county in Mbale District. She told her husband she was going for prayers and left with a Bible and handbag containing cosmetics.

She met with her former lover at Nauyo trading Centre in Bungokho-Mutoto Sub-county from where they checked into a lodge. After sleeping with Kasakya, Wamini dressed up hurriedly leaving his companion in the bed. He then made a call to an unknown person and spoke for about 20 minutes.
After the phone call, an unidentified lady in a black skirt and a brown blouse knocked on the door and Wamini rushed to open without inquiring who it was, against Kasakya’s advice.
A woman who was seemingly known to Wamini got in and started interrogating Kasakya.
“Are you the one called madam Norah Kasakya victim,” the stranger asked. Kasakya answered yes.

The stranger asked another question: “Are you the one stealing people’s husbands?” Kasakya remained silent.
The stranger was holding a black kavera with a water jar inside. It contained acid liquid.
When Kasakya attempted to leave the bed, the stranger poured acid on her, which burnt her whole body, including her private parts.

She [Kasakya] made an alarm which attracted the lodge attendants who came to her rescue. Wamini and the stranger took off before any one came in. The lodge attendant poured on Kasakya water to try to save her.
Residents who had gathered at the lodge surrounded the building to try to catch the culprits.
When they captured Wamini, he told them he was looking for a motorcycle to take the victim to hospital. He denied knowing the stranger.
Kasakya was taken to a nearby clinic for first aid and later referred to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

It was later discovered that Wamini had made off with Kasakya’s phone so that she would not get in touch with her relatives and friends.
On finding out that his wife had suffered an acid attack, Kasakya’s husband reported the case to Mbale Central Police Station under Ref 23/71/2014] on August 12. The Mbale District police commander assigned D/Wcpl Victor Namirembe to handle the case. Namirembe visited the victim at Mbale hospital with detective Nasur Akyaddi and a scene of crime officer [SOCO] that day.

The victim was almost lifeless; she couldn’t talk at that time. They photographed her for the investigation.
“The whole body was burnt with acid including breasts, private parts, face,” Namirembe said.
Namirembe said it was difficult to investigate the case as the victim denied she was burnt with acid in the lodge and instead changed her statement to indicate had been burnt on her way to church by an unknown person.
“On August 25, 2014, the boy lover [Mr Wamini] who took her to the lodge went to Mbale hospital to check on her, the victim recognised him and told her relatives he was the man who burnt her.
The relatives alerted police and he was arrested in the hospital. With Wamini’s arrest, the investigations were intensified.

Namirembe interrogated Wamini on August 26, 2014 at Mbale Central Police Station and he revealed all the plans.
He [Suspect] told D/Wcpl Namirembe that Norah Kasakya was burnt in a lodge by an unknown woman.
“We asked him which lodge. He told us that it’s called Premier League Lodge,” Namirembe said.
The detectives headed by former district CID, Fred Eriku, visited the lodge on August 26, 2014 to get more information. Other detectives included Sgt Charles Weere and D/Wcpl Victor Namirembe.

A sketch map was drawn and they interrogated the residents around the lodge but they declined to give any information.
D/WCpl Namirembe said after failing to get information about the case in the said lodge, they went back to the hospital on August 27, 2014 to interrogate the victim again.
It’s at this point the victim changed her mind and started talking the truth.
“She gave us the whole story about the incidents after the boy lover was arrested. The victim described to us the woman who burnt her at the lodge,” Namirembe said.
The victim’s new statement was recorded on that day.
Detectives started hunting for the unknown woman, after Wamini declined to reveal her identity.

Suspect not collaborating
Namirembe said although they had arrested the former lover, the case was getting difficult to investigate because Wamini refused to reveal the culprit’s identity.
Namirembe said a woman, whose names are withheld, went to her office and gave her details of the woman who burnt Kasakya.
Namirembe said she deployed crime preventers and other informers on August 29, 2014 to trace the culprit. Two days later, a crime preventer called, directing her where the suspects live.
“We went there to arrest her on that day, but she was not around at that time. We left a message asking her to report to Malukhu Police Staion,” said Namirembe.
Namirembe added that on September 2, 2014, they went to Malukhu Police Station where she was arrested.
“We went and got her from Malukhu Police Station and brought her to Mbale Central Police Station,” she said.

Namirembe identified the woman as Negesa Namahonge. D/WCpl Namirembe said by that time of her arrest, the woman had spots of acid on her body, which looked like those on Kasakya’s body.
“When we tried to interrogate her [suspect] the day after her arrest she got violent,” D/Wcpl Namirembe said.
Namirembe said Namahonge [suspect] said spots were chicken pox scars.
The suspect’s statement was recorded and she was later subjected to a medical examination on police form 24 to prove whether the spots were as a result of an acid burn or chicken pox by police surgeon Barnabas Rubanza on September 4, 2014 at Mbale hospital.

Dr Rubanza confirmed the spots were acid burns. However, Namirembe said they did not have enough evidence to pin the two suspects for attempted murder.
She said to get enough evidence, Police organised an identification parade on September 5, 2014. They paraded 12 women, including Namahonge. Detectives picked the victim from the hospital to identify the woman who burnt her. Kasakya pointed at Namahonge.
Namirembe said they sent a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Kampala for advice on the following day.
Namirembe now prepared charges and the suspect appeared before the chief magistrate on October, 1. 2014.

Namahonge and Wamini were remanded on October 1, 2014 to Malukhu government prison since the case was capital in nature, being handled by high court with two counts including attempted murder and conspiracy.
Namirembe said the case got complicated when the victims’ relatives started accusing detectives of being against her. She said the file was again sent to the DPP in Kampala for the second time. And the file came back from the DPP in Kampala indicating both suspects were to be charged with two counts of attempted murder and conspiracy.

Namirembe said when the suspects appeared in court for mention of the case, Namahonge, who was the prime suspect in the case was given a bail. The Namirembe hired a special vehicle to take the victim to court before chief magistrate Stella Atingu. When the victim testified, the chief magistrate cancelled the bail and the suspect was re-arrested.
Namirembe said the suspect [Ms Namahonge] had two phones with four lines which she used to communicate to Wamini.

“We confiscated both phones in order to get enough evidence. We found that on the day of the incident, she used her mother’s phone to communicate to Wamini,” said Namirembe.
The detectives added that they went ahead to print out the conversation.
“We were now armed with enough evidence to pin the suspects in court,” she said.
The high court Judge Gidudu sentenced and convicted them to 36 years each to Malukhu prison for two counts. They were later transferred to Luzira prison.
Namirembe explained that after carrying out investigations into the matter, they found that the cause was a child whom Kasakya said belonged to Wamini.

Motive behind crime
She [victim] later gave the son to another man.
Another cause was that Wamini got a job for Kasakya and processed a passport for her to go to the US to work. After processing Kasakya’s passport, Wamini realised Kasakya was married to another man in Nakaloke about 10 kilometers from Mbale Town.
“But the woman [victim] kept telling her boy lover that she is in United States of America for work and yet she was in Mbale,” Namirembe said.

This prompted Wamini to track her in order to confirm she was not in the US.
Kasakya is still admitted to Mbale hospital. Her face, breasts and private parts were burnt, and she also lost her sight.

First Aid for an acid attack

•Shout or call for help.
•Stop the burning process (in case of fire for example, stop, drop and roll), remove the burning source.
•The most important first aid is to immediately wash affected body part of patient with plenty of fresh or saline water.
•Don’t rinse the burnt area with dirty water as it can cause severe infection.
•Keep flushing the affected burn area with plenty of cool water, (not very cold) until the patient’s burning sensation starts fading. It may take 30-45 minutes.

•Remove all burnt/burning clothing (unless stuck to the patient) and jewellery making sure the first aider doesn’t sustain acid burns on their hands or other parts!
•If possible, use sterilised gauze to loosely wrap the affected area. The gauze protects the skin from air, debris, dirt and contamination.
•The patient should be rushed to specialised medical centre or dial the emergency number.
•Bring bagged clothing to hospital for examination.

•All treatments need to be conducted in sterile environments and antiseptic dressings and antibiotics should be provided along side.
•If the wound is painless, there is a chance that the wound is deep. Superficial burns are more painful and the patient should be aided with painkillers.
•An early recognition, leading to immediate help and then eventual reconstructive surgery, all lead to less scarring, less deformity and speed ups rehabilitation.

•Protein Rich Food ; burned body needs lot of protein and carbohydrates for damaged tissues to heel. Consult the hospital nutritionist to arrange for proper deit for the patient throughout the course of treatment.
•Counseling; patients should be provided good counseling support as the long course of treatment, pain, social stigma has a very detrimental effect on their self esteem. In most cases they loose hope to live and be back again in the society. There are several instances when the acid burn patients have bounced back in life. Citing such examples help the patients to regain faith and look ahead for their log battle with life.