Appeal Court extends witch-doctor’s jail term to life imprisonment – Check details
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The Court of Appeal has enhanced to life imprisonment a 44-year jail term of a witch doctor convicted of kidnapping and mutilating a one-year-old toddler in 2008.
The High Court judge John Eudes Keitirima in Masaka had in 2017 sentenced Stephen Wasswa to 45 years in prison. However, being dissatisfied with the ruling, he appealed against the sentence reasoning that it was harsh and excessive.
Three justices at the Court of Appeal sitting in Masaka led by Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera held that they are cognizant of the fact that they cannot interfere with the sentence imposed by the trial court which exercised its discretion unless the sentence is illegal or based on a wrong principle.
Other justices were; Catherine Bamugemereire and Eva Luswata.
Court noted that they were able to see a video of the current condition of the child victim and she could not move nor talk, she has a visibly contorted frame and it is hard to imagine that she was living a normal life before this barbaric incident.
Court further noted that from the evidence, the victim’s tongue was severed, her teeth were yanked out, several cuts in the stomach, her fingers and feet were also maimed, and her skull had become as soft as that of a newborn.
“Having found that the proper procedure for enhancement of sentence was followed in this case, we are of the view that given the peculiar circumstances of this case to wit; prior to being kidnapped, the victim was a normal two-year-old infant who could even fetch firewood with older siblings far from home; and that after the kidnap, she was maimed for life as a result of the appellant’s gruesome acts there was a case made out for enhancement of sentence,” the court held.
Court added: “We find that this was a good case for a sentence of 44 years imprisonment to be enhanced in material particulars. As a result, we allow the respondent’s application to enhance the sentence from 44 years imprisonment to life imprisonment by invoking this court’s powers under section 11 of the Judicature Act and section 132 of the Trial on Indictments Act.”
As a way of remembering this 2-year-old survivor, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Kyampisi Children’s Home have organised a conference on July 28 aimed at reaching out to every victim of child sacrifice themed “healing the scars”.
According to the court record, on July 19, 2008, at Namayaga Village in Rakai District, Wasswa a witch doctor kidnapped the 2-year-old and took her away and put her in danger of being murdered with the knowledge that she would probably be murdered, and he immediately vanished from the neighbourhood.
The victim was discovered a year and a half later dumped in a bush, mentally and physically disabled by Wasswa who was subsequently arrested, indicted, convicted and sentenced to 44 years imprisonment.