Domestic violence: Trail of deaths shocks Lango region

Thursday April 22 2021
reg02pix

Children go about their routine chores at a home in Apac District on February 5, 2020. The family is headed by a 14-year-old boy after their mother was jailed for killing their father in a case of domestic violence. PHOTO | BILL OKETCH

By Bill Oketch
By Santo Ojok

At the weekend, a 24-year-old man was arrested in Myene Sub-county, Oyam District, after he allegedly killed his stepmother following a domestic brawl.

The suspect, a resident of Ayila B Village, Acimi parish, Myene Sub-county, allegedly battered his stepmother, Sarah Lama, leaving her in a devastated state.

The victim was rushed to St John Pope II Hospital in Aber Sub-county, Oyam District, for medication but died on the way to the private health facility that same Sunday.

Mr Emmanuel Otim, an eyewitness, told Daily Monitor on Monday that a misunderstanding cropped up last Friday when the suspect returned from a nearby drinking joint and forced his stepmother to give him food.

“He then assaulted the woman and his 16-year-old younger brother, leaving him injured.  The matter was reported to police but on Sunday, he again beat up his step mother using a hoe,” Mr Otim said.

Mr Geoffrey Ogwang, the Ayila B Village chairperson, said the suspect surrendered himself to him on Monday and confessed to killing his stepmother under the influence of alcohol.

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“He came to me asking for protection, fearing mob justice. I immediately put him on a motorbike and took him to Myene Police Post. He was later transferred to Minakulu Police Station where he is being held,” he said.

North Kyoga region police spokesperson James Ekaju said he was yet to get details of the case.

The case has shocked Lango, prompting debate about increasing domestic violence cases in the region that is made up of nine districts, including Oyam, Apac, Kwania, Amolatar, Kole, Dokolo, Alebtong, Otuke and Lira.

In Kwania, a woman and her two children are in custody at Kwania Central Police Station following the death of her husband, Martin Adoli. It is reported that the 48-year-old went missing on Monday last week.  But on Thursday, his body was discovered in his house covered with a bedsheet, with injuries on his manhood and the rest of the body.

Mr Moses Opio, the Gweri Village chairperson, said the deceased had a misunderstanding with his family over a cow which was sold without his knowledge.

“The deceased’s sons connived with their mother and sold a cow which was paid to the family in form of  dowry and when Adoli asked for the proceeds, his wife said they were going to build a house for him but shockingly, he was later found dead  in the house,” Mr Opio said.

“His children wanted to bury the body but I stopped them and reported the matter to police, leading to their arrest.”

Mr Opio said the deceased had separated with his wife for about 20 years over domestic violence.

However, he said the woman reunited with her family three years ago.

“The man separated with this woman but his clan forced him to bring back the woman to take care of the family, but there has been no peace between them,” Mr Opio added.

Ms Edith Basalirwa, the Kwania District police commander, confirmed the arrest of three suspects on Monday but did not divulge any details.

In the neighbouring Kole District, police are still hunting a self-proclaimed pastor, who allegedly set ablaze four grass-thatched huts at the home of his father-in- law in Bala Town Council on Easter Sunday.

Mr Alfred Odongo, a resident of Atokimedi Cell, has since remained homeless after his daughter’s husband allegedly set on fire houses at their home following a domestic brawl.

The ‘pastor’ only identified as Quinto had reportedly gone to remove some charm in Bala Town Council but later eloped with Mr Odongo’s daughter.

The man who comes from Otuke District had been living with his in-laws but on the fateful day, he picked a quarrel with his wife, leading to a fight.  He then allegedly set four houses at the home of his in-law on fire before he fled the home.

Mr Ruphino Otim, the Atokimedi Village chairperson, confirmed the incident, saying it happened at around 10pm on Sunday.

“When we followed the footmarks of the suspect, we found his national ID and a mobile phone abandoned at the scene of crime,” he said.

The Kole District Police Commander, Mr David Otabong, said the matter has been reported to them and investigations are ongoing.

“We are now hunting the suspect and I am appealing to the community to give us information that may help us arrest him,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.

He added that a case of arson has been registered at Bala Police Station.

According to Section 327 Sub-section (a) of the Penal Code Act Cap 120, any person who willfully and unlawfully sets fire to a building commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life.

BACKGROUND

Domestic violence is a big challenge in Lango Sub-region. According to data from police, at least 1,180 cases of domestic violence were registered in the region in a span of just eight months in 2020. 

In 2019, the Police Annual Crime Report indicated that the North Kyoga region registered 808 cases of domestic violence.

However, efforts by the government and non-state actors to mitigate the vice have proved fruitless as many people continue to lose their lives to domestic violence.

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