High Court orders arrest, retrial of 2 witch doctors

Monday November 12 2018

The judge’s order follows a petition by a

The judge’s order follows a petition by a local children rights organisation, Kyampisi Child Care Ministries (KCM) to have the 2012 Magistrate Court proceedings reviewed to accord the victim deserved justice. Ms Shelin Kasozi, the Child Protection Officer at KCM, welcomed the High Court decision for a retrial. 

By EPHRAIM KASOZI

Kampala. Court has ordered to arrest and retrial of two witchdoctors on charges of attempted murder in a foiled ritual sacrifice of a juvenile in Kayunga District in 2009.
Mukono High Court Judge Margaret Mutoni ordered the Chief Magistrate’s Court to conduct a fresh trial of suspects Paul Ngaswireki and Awali Kivumbi. The judge said the Chief Magistrate’s Court had earlier made errors of fact and law in the first trial of the suspects.
The duo were in 2012 acquitted by court on charges of attempted murder for lack of sufficient evidence.
Justice Mutoni ruled that the trial chief magistrate did not conduct the required legal process before taking the evidence from the child victim which resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
“The process to assess whether the child (victim) was possessed with the requisite intelligence to testify was not conducted leading to a miscarriage of justice.

No record to show that there was dialogue session conducted before the child testified and or documentary evidence admitted on record for consideration,” the judge observed.
Justice Mutoni held that part of the trial was conducted by a Grade One Magistrate, who did not have the jurisdiction to hear such a serious case which rendered the entire process a nullity.
“I am of the considered view that the process of taking evidence was erroneous,” Justice Mutoni ruled and ordered police to re-arrest the two men and arraign them in court within two months from November 9.
It is alleged that in October 2009, the two men attacked Allan Sembatya at his grandparents’ home in Kayunga, hacked him on the head and cut off a piece of his skull, drained his blood and chopped off part of his private parts.
The prosecution said the victim, then aged seven, after recovering from unconsciousness for three months, identified Ngaswireki and Kivumbi who were living in the neighbourhood as his attackers.
Justice Mutoni observed that the provisions of the Trial and Indictments Act, the Oath Act, and Magistrate’s Court Act are inconsistent with the Constitution on evidence taking.
She also blamed the current legal regime for not providing a conducive environment for children to testify in criminal trials, which makes them vulnerable.

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