Court of Appeal Increases Punishment Of Convicted Witch Doctor To Life In Prison For Attempted Murder Of Baby Hope

DPP’s Hope Annual Memorial Gala Is Set For July 28th

As the annual event organised by the DPP’s office to fight violence against children draws near on july 28th, 2023, the Court of Appeal has set aside a 44-year jail term handed down to Stephen Wasswa, a witch doctor convicted of kidnapping and attempted murder of Hope who was two year s old in July 2008, and instead jailed him for life in prison.

This witch doctor ,Stephen Wasswa, was convicted of abducting baby Hope and mutilated her ,left her for the dead after he dumped her in a bush while stuffed in a sack . Hope had suffered unimaginable torture, including having half of her tongue severed and 14 visible cuts on her stomach. 

As a result of her injuries , the justices of the court of appeal where Wasswa had appealed his earlier sentence of 44 years in prison noted that : ““From the evidence, this court found that the victim’s tongue was severed, her teeth were yanked out, and there were several cuts in the stomach. Her fingers and feet were also maimed. Her skull had become as soft as that of a new borne.

Her labia minora had been mutilated. There was spasticity in all limbs. She had suffered contortion of the torso and has become a paraplegic who can neither walk, talk, sit, or even move. She has lost the ability to chew or feed herself and can neither roll nor turn.”

A quorum of three-member panel of the appellant court comprising Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera, Catherine Bamugemereire, and Eva Luswata, handed down the life sentence for Wasswa.

The court records show that in February 2008, Wasswa had a dispute with Hope’s parents and accused them of poisoning his chicken. Subsequently, Wasswa issued threats, promising a calamity that they would never forget. On July 19, 2008, two-year-old Hope, along with her siblings, went to fetch firewood in a nearby garden. While her siblings returned, Hope did not, prompting her family to launch a frantic search. The parents reported Hope’s disappearance to the police, and Wasswa mysteriously vanished from the village, only to reappear a year and a half later.

The court documents state that on December 13, 2009, a good Samaritan identified as Agnes Nankya, accompanied by an unidentified herdsman, heard squeaky noises coming from a child in the bushes. To their horror, they discovered Hope bound and abandoned in a sisal sack in Njagala Kasaali. Hope had suffered unimaginable torture, including having half of her tongue severed and 14 visible cuts on her stomach. She was immediately taken to the hospital for medical examination.

During her hospital stay, Wasswa, the perpetrator, visited and showed interest in her, asking questions about where she had been found. Subsequently, Hope’s parents were able to locate her at the hospital after hearing radio announcements about a missing child. Wasswa was apprehended and charged before the Rakai Magistrate’s Court but was later granted bail.

DPP’s efforts to stem violence against children

To condemn such acts of kidnapping and attempt to heal the scars of victims like Hope, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, in collaboration with Kyampisi Child Care Ministries, organizes the annual Hope Gala. This year’s event is scheduled to take place on July 28th, 2023, in Kampala.

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