Man jailed 16 years for trafficking 25 children

Convict Muhammad Walusansa Muzaaya being escorted by a prisons officer. PHOTO/URN

What you need to know:

  • The police visited Walusansa’s home and found 39 children.

A man has been sentenced to 16 years in jail after he pleaded guilty to trafficking 25 children and deploying them to his rice and maize fields on Buvuma Islands.

Muhammad Walusansa was handed 16 years for an offense that attracts a maximum penalty of death by hanging because he voluntarily pleaded guilty under the plea-bargaining programme, thereby saving the court’s time and resources.

“I hereby freely and voluntarily plead guilty to the charges above and agree to be sentenced as follows; for counts 1-25, 16 years imprisonment per count,” Walusansa stated in his plea bargaining notice to court last Friday.

Justice Andrew Bashaija of the International Crimes Division of the High Court, whom Walusansa had appeared before, based on the plea-bargaining agreement he had signed with the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to sentenced him to 16 years for each of the 25 counts of aggravated trafficking in children.

He said the sentences were to run concurrently, meaning he would serve 16 years in jail.

“The court finds that the accused voluntarily agreed to plead guilty with an understanding of the nature and consequences thereof, that any allegations as indicated in this form are true, and that there is a factual basis for the plea and admission. The court accepts the accused’s plea and orders that this agreement is incorporated in the docket by reference as though fully set forth therein,” Justice Bashaija held.

Background to the case
The prosecution led by Ms Jacquelyn Okui from the office of the DPP, said between July 25 and July 29, 2013, police officers from Buvuma Police Station got information that Walusansa had over 25 children who were not going to school. 

The police visited Walusansa’s home and found 39 children.

The children were working in his maize and rice gardens. When interviewed, he failed to explain why the children were living with him and who their parents were.

The police, together with the local leaders, screened the children and found that only nine of them were his biological ones. Walusansa informed the police that the children had been brought to him to be taught.

Investigations, however, revealed that Walusansa was neither a teacher by profession nor licensed to teach.
Further, the children were only receiving instructions in the Islamic faith which were of Asaraf Sect. 

The names of the 25 victims of human trafficking have been withheld because they are minors.