Ruth Boomali and Edrina were once best friends, who met at a catering institute 20 years ago.
“We were from different backgrounds,” says Ruth. “I was the quiet one but she was jumpy, someone who would easily get into a physical fight.”
Five years into their friendship, Raymond appeared in their lives.
“He was so handsome, but he did not notice me. He was interested in Edrina. They had a baby together. But I could not let him go.”
Raymond spent the night before his kwanjula to Edrina, in Ruth’s bed. His friends had to drag him to the ceremony.
And after Raymond and Edrina’s wedding, Ruth gave birth to a son triggering a bitter war between the women.
Thin line between emotions and reason
“One day, as I was taking a nap, someone called my name,” says Ruth. “A man had pushed his hand through the window. He had a container in his hand.”
With quick instincts, Ruth rolled off the bed, breaking her baby’s arm, and missing death by a whisker.
When it comes to our reaction to conflict, our decisions are based on our feelings and thoughts. For some people, balancing the two is difficult. They tend to favour one over the other.
Ali Male, a counselling psychologist, says that it all lies in a person’s locus of control.
“Some people have strong control over their emotions. This is normally coupled with a high sense of esteem and logic in the person. Such people are not easily driven by their emotions.”
Those who have weak control over their emotions can easily commit murder when in a fit of rage. It is only the intervention of a third party that can stop them.
“The control of emotions is strongly influenced by our personality types. For instance, someone with a Type A personality is more prone to anger and makes instant decisions without consultation.”
A Type A personality, with a low locus of control, is a disaster waiting to happen.
However, sometimes, a person who suffered abuse in childhood, and suppressed their emotions can have difficulty keeping them in when faced with conflict.
That is why you may find a jovial and outgoing person, who turns into something else when they are angry.
The trigger points
“We all have a shadow side that we do not want others to know about,” says Male adding that, “the only difference is how react when that side is discovered. For some people, this reality can cause extreme stress, sparking off terrible anger.” According to Dr. Stanton Samenow, a clinical psychologist, in his book Inside the Criminal Mind, “The person who commits a ‘crime of passion’ has, at least in his thinking, resorted to extreme measures in response to other disturbing, threatening situations.”
Crimes of passion depend on the character of the person. We all face problems everyday but we do not kill.
Samenow says that, “Thousands of people experience serious problems in relationships that tax their patience, their pocketbooks, and their psychological resources. But they do not react by annihilating the source of their difficulties….they address their predicaments in other ways!”
Pleading temporary insanity
A husband, who wields a panga against his wife and her lover, after catching them in bed, might plead insanity while in the throes of rage.
However, this begs the question – how has he been habitually responding to conflict?
“A lay person may call it temporary insanity but it is actually a disorder that has been going on for a long time,” says Ali Male, a counselling psychologist. “It could be a personality disorder coupled with other issues like alcohol.”
At first, Brenda’s ex-boyfriend moved on after their relationship broke up. She had suffered both physical and emotional abuse in the relationship.
“I thought we would remain friends. I told him about my new boyfriend and he was happy for us.”
So when her ex casually asked her, in a night club, where her boyfriend’s ancestral burial grounds were, Brenda thought he was joking.
“My boyfriend was at the counter. We did not know that this man had been watching us all night. There was something in his eyes that got my attention.”
Those who commit crimes of passion tend to have a history of responding to conflict with anger and threats. The nature of the conflict is often inconsequential.
When Brenda’s ex grabbed her hand and insisted on an answer, she screamed, attracting the attention of the bouncers.
“If I had not screamed, he would have beaten me. My boyfriend would have tried to defend me and they would have fought.”
Controlling our emotions
Male advises that when in a state of acute anger, it is important for a person to change position.
“If you have been standing, sit or lie down to think about your reaction. This small change in posture could be what stands between you and murder.”
The important thing is to get rid of the toxic feelings that are shadowing our reasoning. More therapeutically perhaps, once could vent the anger through punching a pillow or doing physical exercises like running or walking.
Crimes of passion that have got us talking
As crime reports move increasingly into the forefront of global news, below are some high profile crimes of passion in the country.
•September 2014 – Businesswoman Jacqueline Uwera Nsenga sentenced to 20 years for the murder of husband, Juvenal Kananura Nsenga
•February 2011 – Former Arua MP, Akbar Godi sentenced to 25 years for murder of wife, Rehema Caesar.
•August 2011 – Businessman Tom Nkurunziza sentenced to death for the murder of ex-girlfreind, Brenda Karamuzi.
•April 2008 – Former Mukono DPC, James Arien shoots wife Christine Apolot dead.
•June 2008 – Policeman Justus Bitemehirwe stabbed to death for allegedly having an affair with a married woman.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN THREATENED IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP?
“In 2012, my fiance’s ex-girlfriend of my fiancé threatened to hurt me. She even sent me a messenger telling me to back off her boyfriend. I tasked my boyfriend to explain what was going on. We met the lady and had a discussion about it,”
Zaharah Nakityo, reporter
“Lucky enough, I am still with my first boyfriend. But if I get threats from any lady, I would report the matter to the police. I would also question my husband whether there is any connection between them because there is no smoke without fire,”
Sarah Nalinya, environmentalist
“I have never felt threatened in a relationship. I take time to study the person I am going to date. For instance, I took two years studying my fiancé before I accepted his proposal. I request all ladies out there not to rush for love since it could put their life in danger,”
Iren Namale, economist
“I was once threatened by my cousin brother. He accused me of loving his former girlfriend. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the two had once been lovers. I quit the relationship once I learnt that the allegations were true,”
Norbert Mwesigye, technician
“I have never been threatened in a relationship. If that happened, then I would quit the relationship because life is precious and irreplaceable. Besides, there are very many women out there so I can’t risk my life because of love,”
Ronald Sentamu, teacher
“I have never been threatened in a relationship because the wife I have I introduced her in broad day. I don’t think someone can threaten me on a woman introduced in front of everyone,”
Emmanuel Sisye, teacher
Compiled by Joseph Kato