COWE Scam Victims Commit Suicide Top story

3273 Views Kabale, Western Region, Uganda

In short
Twahir Anteli, the Chairperson of COWE Victims Association, says some of their colleagues decided to take their own lives after losing their savings. He says at least four people have committed suicide since 2006.

Hundreds of people in Kabale district who were conned by Caring for Orphans, Widows and the Elderly-COWE, a local non-governmental organisation, are still mourning the loss of their savings. More than 3220 people lost over Shillings 4.3 billion to the sham organisation about four years ago.
On Sunday, hundreds of the COWE victims and well-wishers converged at Christ the King Church in Kabale, led by the parish priest Reverend Father Bruno Serunkuma, to pray for their fallen colleagues and ask government to help them to recover their money.
Twahir Anteli, the chairperson of COWE Victim's Association, says some of their colleagues decided to take their own lives after losing their savings. He says at least four people have committed suicide since 2006.

Serena Kyomugisha lost Shillings 2.5 million, which she borrowed from the bank in the COWE scam. She says they decided to congregate to pray to God for strengths.
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John Byaruhanga, the secretary COWE Victim's Association in Kabale district, says he lost 70 million Shilling to the organisation. He wants government to compensate them.
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Fred Turyamureeba, a resident of Ikumba Sub County in Kabale district lost Shillings 10 million he reported borrowed from one of the banks in Kabale town. According to Turyamureeba, he was forced to sell off his vehicle and other property to pay off the loan.

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During the church service, the victims appealed for help to support the households whose head committed suicide.
COWE opened in Kabale in 2004 and encouraged residents to save with the organisation, saying it would double their savings. However, COWE officials embezzled member's savings leading to the closure of the organisation in 2006.
In March 2011, the Kabale Chief Magistrate's court convicted Nickson Balikowa, the former National Secretary of COWE and former Kigezi region Coordinator, Sedi Kesiime to four years in jail. Court also ordered the duo to pay a fine of Shillings 450 million to their victims.  
However, the ruling was quashed by Kabale High Court, which saw the duo regain their freedom.  
On January 2016, president Museveni directed the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to intervene and help the scam victims.
Global Alliance for Legal Aid now says it is organising to open a fresh legal case against COWE officials.


About the author

Anthony Kushaba
For Anthony Kushaba, journalism is not just a job; it is a calling. Kushaba believes journalism is one of the few platforms where the views of the oppressed and margainalised can be heard. This is what his journalism aims to do: bring to light untold stories.

Kushaba is the Mbarara region URN bureau chief. Mitooma, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Sheema, Isingiro, and Kiruhura districts fall under his docket. Kushaba has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Kushaba is a journalism graduate from Uganda Christian University Study Centre at Bishop Barham College in Kabale. Before joining URN, Kushaba worked with Voice of Kigezi (2008), Bushenyi FM (2010) and later on to Voice of Muhabura.

Kushaba's journalism interests centre on conflict, peace and electoral reporting. Kushaba occasionally writes on tourism, health, religion and education. He describes himself as highly driven and will pursue a tip until it yields a story.