That was the length of time Afuwah Namata was sentenced to jail. It is probably one of the most unusual sentences heard of in the country. This is likely because the case was just as unusual as well as heartrending.
On Monday, Masaka High Court presided over by Lady Justice Margaret Oumo Oguli heard that 18-year-old Afuwah Namata killed her father Ahmed Majwala on May 8, after he had raped her. It was not the first time he was doing so. The 58-year-old man had been raping Namata repeatedly from the time she was 13 years old. Prosecution led by Peter Mugisha told court that the convict violently killed her father using a knife and a panga after the deceased performed sexual acts against her.
Mr Mugisha, however, asked court to give her a maximum sentence which requires death saying the act she performed was illegal since the Ugandan Constitution condemns mob justice. His argument was that she should have reported the matter to police and not killed him.
Defence led by Mr Edward Kikirengoma, however, did not agree with the State saying the act the father did to his daughter was condemned, especially in Buganda kingdom.
Cruel acts Mr Kikirengoma told court that the convict needed to take charge of her life since she had become tired of her father’s cruel acts, adding that court should look into the condition of the girl as she is six months pregnant, with the child of her father.
“Namata revealed that as she was sleeping in the house, she did not know that her mother, Halima Nalukwago, 56, had gone out; her father learnt that his wife wasn’t in the house and came into her bed and raped her. Since they were living in a one-room rented house, the father took advantage of his own children,” Mr Kikirengoma said.
It emerged that Majwala had also impregnated his three other daughters, Mariam Nanyange who has one child, Sarah Namukasa, who has two and Zaituni Nalugemwa, who has two, all sired by their late father. Defence therefore asked court to give Namata a lenient sentence.
In the end, Justice Oguli agreed with the defence saying judicially, they condemn such acts done by parents to their children which she referred to as “sexual harassment”. She then passed the sentence. Justice Oguli said Namata was sentenced from time of the pronounced judgement which was 11am to the time of court’s closure, 5pm, six hours in prison and court told her that she was free to appeal against the sentence. She was then taken to the cells to serve her time at Masaka Prisons.
According to the prison warder, Sgt Hakiri, during her stay in prison, Namata was a well-behaved girl. “She interacted with the people around and looked sorry for what she had done,” he said.
At 5pm, she left for her home. Life, however, has not been easier for Namata and her family. Joyce Nakitende, a neighbour to the family, says it is alleged that the family of the deceased relocated to Lambu Landing Site. Residents had wanted to kill them, but police came quickly and rescued them.
And so it is, that even though, one tragic part of Namata’s life has ended, another has started.