Acid Attack Victim Looking for Justice One Year On

2393 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Jennifer Namaganda has not seen the suspected attacker, Owori Wilbrod, who disappeared after that fateful night in early 2017 when she saw him pour acid on her. Her face is deformed and there is no hair on her head. She lives in agony as she explains from her bed side in a rented one room in Katwe, a suburb of Kampala.

A twenty-six year-old woman continues to look for justice one year after suffering an acid attack at the hands of the father of her two children.

Jennifer Namaganda has not seen the suspected attacker, Owori Wilbrod, who disappeared after that fateful night in early 2017 when she saw him pour acid on her. Her face is deformed and there is no hair on her head.
 
She lives in agony as she explains from her bed side in a rented one room in Katwe, a suburb of Kampala.
 
//Cue in: "Taata yatuzaala…
Cue out…. nafuluma."//
 
Namaganda recalls of the immediate aftermath of the attack. "I saw just darkness." She had to walk around the village neighbourhood with the help of her daughter to get help. She was taken to Nakavule health centre, and later referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital.
 
//Cue in: Kati nze mukufuluma…...
Cue out…. Ne bantwala ekiruddu."//
 
Namaganda was originally residing in Tororo with her husband but was left homeless after she was deserted by Owor and chased from her village home by her relatives.
She now lives with her maternal aunt and four siblings in a rented room in Katwe. Her aunt vends mangoes on the streets of Kampala to earn a living and also support the nearly helpless Namaganda.
 
She says her relatives abandoned because they were unable to continue taking care of her in that condition. Namaganda explains that she was deserted by almost everyone.

//Cue in: "Zali enaku zo…...
Cue out…. okundabirira."//
 
Despite the treatment and surgeries she has gone through, Namaganda remains bed ridden. She lives half-naked so that clothes don't inflict pain to her upper part of the body that was burnt.  
 
Namaganda says she has undergone several surgeries after the attack but she has seen little change. She says the cost of treatment is too expensive for her care taker.
 
//Cue in: "Edwaliro…
Cue out …nkyali mulwadde bwe buzibu."//
 
Namaganda is crying out for justice. Her suspected attacker has never been arrested despite her plea. She does not know where he lives. He equally abandoned the care of their two children. Namaganda lost the only uncle in September 2017 in an accident as he tried to pursue the arrest of Wilbrod Owor.
 
//Cue in: "Bino bye tufumbirwa...
Cue out…. nempunga nentakikiriza."//
 
Namaganda still believes in herself, she says that her life could come back to normal if she gets a Good Samaritan who can give her some starting capital to invest and take care of herself.
  
Luke Owoyesigire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, says that in 2017, police registered nine acid cases and only one person was successfully convicted.
 
//Cue in: "We registered…
Cue out……. still inquiring about."//
 
Owoyesigire says that the main reasons for acid attacks in Uganda are land wrangles and relationship issues.
 
In March this year, acid attack survivors staged a protest at the Nakawa Chief Magistrate's Court over the release on bail of a Kyambogo University lecturer, who is accused of pouring acid on his wife's face.
 
James Kazungu Alupo, an engineering lecturer, faces two charges of domestic violence and attempted murder in connection to an acid attack on Judith Angole Dirisi in October last year.
 
A 2011 report by Acid Survivor's Foundation titled: 'Acid Violence in Uganda: A Situational Analysis' puts acid violence as one of the neglected crimes in Uganda.
 
The Penal Code Act criminalises throwing a liquid or a corrosive substance with intent to maim, disfigure, disable or cause grievous bodily harm. On conviction one is to be jailed for life.
 
In 2015, a bill to regulate, prohibit and control Toxic Chemicals was pushed through Parliament. The bill, assented to in January 2016, regulates the importation, distribution and use of chemicals like acids. While the law was hailed by activists such as the Center for Rehabilitation of Survivors of Acid and Burns Violence (CERESAV) as a sign of victory over violence, however, it does not specifically mention acid attacks as one of the chemicals to regulate.
 
CERESAV, a non-government organisation set up in 2012 by acid attack survivors, has been pushing for a separate law that specifically addresses acid violence.