Sadat Maganda trusted his father, he was supposed to protect him from danger, but Muhammed Kiduma turned out to be a threat to his nine-year-old.
As Sadat Maganda, nine, was still toiling in the garden, helping out like any well- behaved child would, his father Muhammed Kiduma asked him to clean himself up. He heed his father’s orders.
“You are going to your aunt’s home where you will be staying and carry on with your studies. Those people will take you to your aunt,” Maganda recalled his father telling him.
He was to travel in a saloon car, which was parked near their home at Bulebi village in Bugiri District on February 24, 2010. The future looked bright. He was leaving a home where he lived with his father and step mother.
He was to travel with Ali Mudeega, their neighbour, a light-skinned woman dressed in a hijab, who he met for the first time, and two other gentlemen.
Maganda had a one-on-one chat with Mudeega before they set off. Maganda said he was told to sit in the rear seat sandwiched by Mudeega and the woman.
On their way, they made a stopover at a trading centre where Mudeega bought books and other scholastic materials Maganda was use at school.
After travelling for a few miles, the driver suddenly braked and parked.
“When we reached a place where it was raining, one of the men got out of the car. The driver got out for a short call,” Maganda recalls.
Then hell broke loose. A vehicle parked and two men in plainclothes jumped out and raced toward their parked car. Armed with rifles, they ordered Mudeega, who was seated near Maganda to put his hands up.
They handcuffed him. He was also pulled out of the car into the vehicle of the armed men.
The driver, who had gone for a short call, just took off but the armed men did not pursue him.
The light-skinned woman was also pushed into the armed men’s vehicles.
One of the two men Maganda was with in the car participated in arresting Mudeega.
No questions were asked. Their next stop was Busia Police Station.
At the station, police officers recorded everything about Maganda.
Maganda could not understand what was going on. His destination was not the home of his aunt where he was to continue with his education. He was to be taken to a shrine at the Kenyan coast.
Maganda had been rescued by police from being trafficked contrary to the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act.
Mudeega, the traditional healer and their neighbour, was detained on the same charge.
Maganda’s father had sold him to Mudeega, a traditional healer, who also was looking for market to resale him to Kenyan traditional healers. Upon receiving the news about the arrest of his accomplice, Maganda’s father fled into hiding.
Mudeega was arrested after police received a tip about his plan.
In February 2010, Abudallah Ndimwibo was asked by his foster brother, Mudeega, to find market for two children – a boy and a girl – he intended to sell preferably to Kenyans.
Mudeega believes Kenyan traditional healers, especially those from the coastal areas, buy children for ritual sacrifices at a good amount of money.
Though the revelation was shocking, Ndimwibo concealed his pain. He knew his foster brother meant what he said. However, he didn’t know who the children were and where they were.
On February 22, 2010, Ndimwibo chose to report to the authorities. He visited John Wanyama, Gombolola Internal Security Organisation officer, at his residence in Busitema Sub-county, Busia District.
Wanyama was tipped about the pending sell of the children for ritual sacrifice at Muwayo Trading Centre in the same district.
“The next day, I got fuel for my car and went to Muwayo Trading Centre and picked Ndimwibo. I told him to call Mudeega to confirm to him that he had got child buyers,” Wanyama said.
After the call, Wanyama drove Ndimwibo to the office of Cap Aaron Tumuhimbise, District Internal Security officer, at Busia Municipality, whom they briefed about the case.
It was a big case. Capt Tumuhimbise involved Busia police with a purpose of trapping the suspect and foiling the case before the suspect gets another buyer.
“We had to get a person who would pretend to be a child buyer and foreign currencies to pay the suspect. We got a light-skinned woman to dressed like a Muslim,” Wanyama said.
The woman they got was Nuru Mugerwa, who was light-skinned.
Mugerwa would claim to be from Mombasa, Kenya and she would only speak Swahili. She was to agree to the deal and would offer the seller money in dollars and Kenyan shillings.
They made sure that their target did not get any doubts. Mugerwa was to use a simcard for a Kenyan telecom company to communicate with Mudeega.
At the end of the coaching, Ndimwibo, Mugerwa and police officer in plainclothes set off to Muwayo Trading Centre. A car not known to locals was used for the operation.
At the trading centre, Ndimwibo left the car and fetched Mudeega. They continued with their journey. Capt Tumuhimbise and his team remained in their vehicle monitoring the operation.
Mudeega first took them to one place but they did not get the child. Then they drove to Muhammed Kiduma’s home. Kiduma offered them his child, Maganda.
“Mudeega said he had a boy and girl and wanted to sell both to one person,” Mugerwa said in her statement.
Speaking in Swahili, Mugerwa insisted that she could only afford one. They agreed and they drove off. Mugerwa then contacted Capt Tumuhimbise that they were returning in the same car with Mudeega and the boy.
On the way, the driver stopped to allow some of the occupants to ease themselves. Ndimwibo got out of the car.
It was time for Capt Tumuhimbise’s team to strike. They arrested Mudeega and rescued the boy. All were taken to Busia Police Station to record statements.
Mudeega was aware that he had fallen in the trap and conceded to have participated in the trafficking of a child.
He was taken to court and charged with kidnapping with intent to murder contrary to Section 243 (1) and 242 of the Penal Code Act.
Another count against him was aggravated trafficking in persons contrary to section 4 (a) (e) and (i) of the Prevention in Trafficking of Persons Act, 2009.
In court, he denied kidnapping the boy with the intent of murder. He also denied trafficking of a child. He insisted that the statement he made was extracted after being tortured.
In her judgement, Justice Flavia Senoga Anglin agreed with Mudeega that the prosecution did not prove that the accused kidnapped with the intention to murder.
“The accused organised, and made preparations for bringing the victim from his parents’ home and selling him to people he believed were to take him to Kenya, where any unlawful act could have happened to him,” the Justice said.
But Justice Senoga convicted him on charges of aggravated trafficking in persons contrary to section 4 (a) (e) and (i) of the Prevention in Trafficking of Person Act, 2009.
Mudeega pleaded for a light sentence saying he has 19 children who have all lost their mothers and he is the only one catering for them.
In October 2013, Justice Senoga sentenced Mudeega to seven years in jail.
The convict is sentenced to imprisonment for seven years.
Though a first offender, who seems repentant, the offence was motivated by greed for money without a thought for the welfare of the child who was the victim.
It was committed against a vulnerable member of society that is, a child who was then aged about nine years.
Children and other vulnerable members of society are not safe with people like the convict freely moving about in society. The convict may be of further danger to the community.
That the child was handed over by the father is no lawful excuse because the evidence indicates that the child was sold by the father and bought by the offender to be further sold out of the country.
The accused as a family man with children of his own ought to have known better and exercised restraint before accepting to be part of such abominable actions. The offence is greatly frowned upon and causes apprehension in the public.
But since no physical injury was occasioned to the victim and he was rescued before being taken across the border, court will exercise leniency.
The sentence would have been 10 years but court has also taken into account that accused has been on remand for three years.
Therefore, seven years will suffice to serve the ends of justice.
Right of Appeal against conviction and sentence explained to the convict.
Flavia Senoga Anglin on October 10, 2013
Human trafficking facts
Uganda signed the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children in 2003 supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime she ratified later in 2005.
The protocol is aimed at making internal human trafficking an offence and supporting international effort in investigating and prosecuting the cases.
In October 2009, Parliament passed the prevention of trafficking in persons Act which targets prohibiting trafficking in persons, creating offenses, prosecution and punishment of offenders, prevention of trafficking in persons and protection of victims.
Challenges in handling Human Trafficking
a) Failure by communities to understand the dangers/risks of human trafficking where employment bureaus dupe victims of greener pastures abroad
b) Inadequate skills by the investigators
c) Difficulty in getting information and evidence from countries where the victims are trafficked.
d) It is generally expensive to investigate a case of trafficking in persons where a scene of crime is in another country.
e) Public ignorance about the law on human trafficking.
Combating Human Trafficking
a) Established an anti- human trafficking desk at the Ministry of Internal Affairs
b) Public sensitisation on dangers and risks of human trafficking
c) Regional and international cooperation through EAPCCO, Interpol and AU organs among others.
d) Established regulations to prevent trafficking of persons through fraudulent labour recruitment companies.
Source: 2013 police report