Police look away as sexual harassment cries get louder

Monday March 31 2014

The victims wrote to assistant IGP Sorowen but

The victims wrote to assistant IGP Sorowen but are yet to be helped. PHOTO BY RACHEAL MABALA 

By SANDE BASHAIJA

KAPCHORWA.

Female athletes that recently complained of sexual harassment are steadily losing hope of getting justice. They fear the accused coach may never be reprimanded due to his connections in Uganda Police and Uganda Athletic Federation (UAF).

We have ascertained that the coach works with the Uganda Police athletics team and is also involved in the running of the Police Athletics Camp in Kapchorwa. A top UAF executive member also works with Uganda Police as a coach and has been accused of doing everything to fail the case.

“Everywhere we go, no one wants to listen to us. The policemen instead tell us we are the ones in the wrong,” one of the aggrieved runners told Daily Monitor but asked not to be named for fear of being reprimanded.

The athletes first tried to seek legal redress by reporting at Kampala Police Station (CPS) two weeks ago but left without recording a statement, claiming they were made to wait for too long.

They then headed to Makerere University police post where they met Robert Chelimo, the OC CID. Chelimo hails from Sebei Region like most of the aggrieved athletes.

No statement was taken from them.
“There was a strike at the university which we were trying to quell. The runners called me and said they had an issue to discuss with me but I couldn’t meet them. I got some time in the evening but they had left. They were impatient and wanted to travel back to Kapchorwa,” Chelimo told us then even as the runners insist that they had a chat with him.
The runners also held a meeting with Kapchorwa DPC Patrick Odokonyero and other district leaders on March 20.

Advertisement

While Kapchorwa LC5 chairman Sam Cheptoris ruled that the coach be banned from the district’s athletics activities, the Police have taken no action yet. “Since most of these athletes are from Police, we believe there are better channels of addressing their complaints,” Odokonyero said on phone a fortnight ago.

Yesterday, Odokonyero told us there was an investigation going on but denied ever receiving a letter from UAF asking for Police intervention. On Friday, UAF president Dominic Otucet said they had written to Police to handle the matter because it is criminal in nature.

On January 21, the runners wrote a letter, which was copied to Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Sorowen, among other authorities. Sorowen oversees general duties in the force and sports falls under his docket.

Although insisting he had not received the letter, Sorowen promised to travel to Kapchorwa two weeks ago but he told KFM on March 22 that he had not travelled becasue he was feeling unwell. Yesterday, he did not answer our repeated calls.

Moses Kipsiro, who was dropped from the national team after discussing the sexual harassment accusations with the media, said those covering up for the accused coach don’t wish this country well.

“Why should a coach who has ruined the careers of several talented girls be left in charge of the national team? Why can’t he be punished?” a bitter Kipsiro asked.

Background
During a one-month training camp for the March 16 Africa Cross-country Championships in Bukwo, some female runners complained that a male national coach sexually and physically abused them.

He threatened to drop them from the team if they turned down his sexual advances. Team captain Moses Kipsiro confronted the coach after learning of the girls’ plight. Kipsiro, however, paid a huge price for discussing the issue with the media. He was dropped from the team that represented Uganda at Saturday’s World Half Marathon Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Advertisement