Ugandan legislator assaults a woman in police custody: who will check mob justice?

Today’s New Vision front page story; Legislator slaps beggar over child abuse raises many questions. The woman legislator from Kasese  Winifred Kiiza had been to the Police station for a totally different case of attempted conning if i may call it that.

A Ugandan female legislator slaps a suspect in police custody. A New Vision photo

Then a long the way she took time to take the law into her own hands at a place where suspects are supposed to be in safe custody, to slap one Lukiyo Agino, a 23-year-old Karimojong girl, who was had been arrested over child abuse.

The story goes Lukiyo was fronting a malnourished child from her friend to people on the streets trying to get money. Lukiyo’s child abuse story is not too intriguing. The problem of Karamoja is a well documented one. It’s one place with a harsh climate that relies on food aid throughout the year. Government has almost kept alive the long held notion of we shall not wait for Karamoja to develop by not helping it to develop even when the First lady is the minister in charge of that region. Most of what we see about Karamoja is about guns and disarmament.

It’s women who suffer most in that part of the country where one has to walk miles to access water.  This is a place with about one hospital for about 10,000 people and many have run away to the streets of kampala with their children. While Lukiyo’s alleged act of child abuse is inexcusable, the source of such cases is not these poor women on the streets. And you would expect a legislator to be fully cautious before putting her judgment on such  women.

Kiiza’s behavior is only a glimpse into the mob justice culture in Uganda. A person elected to represent a district is the same person to commit crimes right at police station.

The story goes on to say the woman had smiled when the MP asked her if she new the pains of childbirth. What a question to a  woman from who probably has never stepped in a school. And even if the question was in Luganda i doubt she has good understanding language BUT above all who’s Kiiza at the Police station?

The most unethical of all acts in this story is journalists geering and asking the MP to give more beating to the woman saying “Mwongere”

This is shameful but it shows how much Ugandans are into mob justice. Even those who are supposed to watch it are involved in it. The story ends with a no comment from a Police officer declining to state if the legislator would face any charges. Of course people like Kiiza understand the workings of our police force. They too practice such violence on suspects so how can they rescue one from a politician who has a district they represent.

This harassment of a suspect by a legislator right before the eyes of the police tells a much bigger story about justice in Uganda.  Kiiza must be brought to book for use of violence and if our parliament is worth its name should take such a case seriously. Torture and harrasment are not part of a job of a legislator and If Kayihura still insists that the force doesn’t brutalise civilians he must answer why a suspect would be beaten up at a police station and no action taken.

10 thoughts on “Ugandan legislator assaults a woman in police custody: who will check mob justice?

  1. Its a shame, but what do you expect? people remain human beings with specific characters even when they become legislators, there is no difference between the slapper and the slapped

  2. Hi Rosebell,

    You correctly described it – as mob justice.
    Just what could have possessed the legislator. You know they are referred to as honourable/s. Question: What is honourable about the MP’s action? This kind of brute recklessness that makes us feel and think we are invincible needs to be tamed lest we degenerate into anarchy. Refer to Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

    The MP should own up to her mistake – unless she can prove the contrary.

  3. Seriously, this is mob justice like the way you put it. Although I keep asking myself, where do these Karamojong women and children get the money to reach Kampala??? Is it possible, that someone transports them??? Paparosie, dig into this please!

  4. The unfortunate reality is that she (the dishonorable MP) walked away scot free, yet she should have been handcuffed and paraded before the journalists too (I’ve never understood the culture of parading criminals – maybe to shame them and their families !!). Then she had the nerve to go ahead and say she had no regrets about what she had done. She is an abuser just as much as Lukiyo is as well.

    Her walking into a police station and doing what she did – in front of the equally daft journalists urging her on – goes to show that our politicians at different levels feel that they have the power to act above the law, and the police that should be there to protect all citizens, is powerless to bring to justice certain individuals that act like they are above the law.

  5. Personally, I really don’t care who slapped who and whether or not it was honourable. The real victim here is that malnourished child everyone seems to be overlooking and the grave injustice it suffers by being paraded to beg on the streets. It looks about a day away from death!
    If this woman was in fact abusing the child in this manner, perhaps a good slap was in order!

    1. I understand your concern but i believe it the narrow view of problems that would lead an MP abuse a suspect no matter what she had been accused. This treatment seems to already judge that she indeed starved the child but the police only holds suspects not convicts.
      We are talking about rule of law and if an MP thinks she cares so much then may be she wd be slapping the government that has not done much for Karamoja. I have a collection of pictures i took last year in Moroto at a hospital and you would be shocked to see that number and level of malnourished children in just one area.
      My first concern is rule of law, we can’t simply continue to put laws in our hands hoping we will cure the injustice. What difference did her slap to the condition of the child?
      Did she even think of helping the child whose mother probably will not afford or won’t take such a child for treatment. Her reactions was impusive, un called for and unlawful.

  6. rosebell,

    dont you have a heart? we all have hearts that can be overtaken by passion. supposing the kjong was using your child like that would you laugh as you take her to police?
    the legislator is a human being and was taken up by emotions since she used to give such women some of her money. lets reason like people living in uganda and not like some wannabees living on the streets of london and thinking they are more civilised.

    1. well, Robert the fact that i can write i believe confirms i have a heart. The question you have put forward is totally irrelevant for even the woman that begs has a heart. And those who steal money made for Karimoja of course have a heart. The issue in question is has the MP led by example. I would expect that behavior from the mob on the street. And well if the MP was got by emotions there has to be accountability. I believe the police following up this case have a heart too. And we have different reasoning that’s why you think it’s a matter of heart and i believe we need to control our mob-punishement kind of hearts.

  7. The sad thing is that because of our corrupt government (yes the corrupt unkind inhumane officials, i guess we all know what i am saying), who don’t bother to make conditions any better are the same ones who try to take the moral high ground. It’s ridiculous quite frankly. I very much sympathise with the 23 year old woman and her baby. I bet she was doing the best she could and can with what she had and what she knows under her circumstances, was best for her and her child. If they want to help, they might aswell come up with a plan to help with the problems other than slap people when they well know the conditions that have brought them.

    Can we save the cheap shots of ‘wannabe’s living in london’ *rolls eyes*

  8. Someone with a heart would have taken the child to hospital, offered money to the foolish woman and alerted child social services. The woman may be foolish but the last thing she needs is a slap from a lawmaker or should we say lawbreaker

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