Iganga, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a significant legal ruling, High Court Judge, Justice David Batema, has handed down a verdict resulting in a 52-year prison sentence for Hassan Kafudde, a father convicted of the murder of his son in a ritual sacrifice. The case also involved lengthy sentences for one accomplice, while the witch doctor implicated in the case, who had spent six years in remand, was released.
The proceedings unfolded within the High Court of Uganda Circuit located in Iganga. The prosecution’s case contended that Kafudde sacrificed his son in a ritual murder with the belief that it would bring him wealth.
According to the prosecution’s account, on the 6th of June 2017, the convicted individuals, situated in Musita village within the Mayuge District, gruesomely beheaded and mutilated a child known as MJ in a ritualistic act.
Earlier in the legal proceedings, one of the accused, Issa Muyita, entered a guilty plea, reached a plea bargain agreement, and offered to testify as a prosecution witness. Consequently, he received a 25-year prison sentence. The trial continued against Kafudde and Kabaale Mubaraka, both of whom pleaded not guilty.
During the trial, Muyita confessed that he had accompanied Kafudde from Musita trading center to a sugarcane plantation, where Kafudde presented his son MJ. The child was tragically murdered in the sugarcane plantation near a stream. Kafudde collected the child’s blood in a polythene bag and transported the severed body parts in a bag. Additionally, he dug a shallow grave to bury the decapitated remains of the sacrificed child.
As a result, Kafudde was found guilty of the ritual murder of the child MJ and convicted as charged. It was subsequently established in court that Mubaraka did not actively participate in the commission of the offense.
However, the court determined that Mubaraka, identified as a witch doctor with shrines in Musita village, had been informed of the criminal act by Hassan Kafudde. Mubaraka subsequently went into hiding after the incident and was subsequently found guilty of being an accessory to the murder, as per section 394 of the Penal Code Act.
At the conclusion of the trial, Justice Batema, presiding over the High Court of Uganda Circuit in Iganga, convicted and sentenced the accomplices, Muyita, Kafudde, and Mubaraka, on the charge of trafficking in persons, in violation of section 4(a) and 5(c) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act. Hassan Kafudde was sentenced to 52 years in prison, while Mubaraka received a 3-year prison term.
In his judgment, Justice Batema strongly denounced the heinous practice of ritual child sacrifice, the dismemberment of children, and the illegal trade in body parts, emphasizing the gravity of such offenses.
Justice Batema justified the lengthy custodial sentence for Kafudde by pointing to his lack of remorse throughout the court proceedings and his failure to demonstrate regret for the crime. Accordingly, Kafudde was sentenced to spend 52 years in Kirinya prisons, which includes the six years spent in pretrial detention.
The judge found Kabaale Mubaraka guilty of being an accessory to the crime but observed hesitancy on his part to report the incident to the police. Consequently, Mubaraka was sentenced to three years in prison, but given his prior six-year remand period, he was ordered to be immediately released.
Jacqueline Okui, the spokesperson for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), commended the court for its landmark judgment, asserting that it will serve as a deterrent to individuals involved in such criminal acts.
Okui further challenged parents to take a proactive role in safeguarding their children’s well-being, emphasizing that engaging in child rights abuses such as ritual murders, whether directly or indirectly, would result in significant custodial sentences.
The investigation of this case was led by Aliwali Kizito, Chief State Attorney, with the prosecution being conducted by Racheal Bikhole, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Division, along with Nyanzi Gladys, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Biira Peace, Chief State Attorney, and Arap Malinga, a Senior State Attorney within the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.