Shabaz Muhammed, without any chance for remission, or being released on grounds of good behaviour.
Mohammed’s sentence, the toughest of recent cases involving sodomy in Uganda, has restored hope among opponents of the practice that if institutions do their job well, existing laws about Sodomy can still be used to bring perpetrators to book.
Shabaz Muhammed was charged with the offence of Sodomy technically referred to as Having Carnal Knowledge of Someone outside the order of Nature. The practice, known these days as homosexuality, violates the Penal code section 145 (a) and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Muhammed 35, was a personnel officer at Abisha Steel Industries in Lugazi town along Jinja road by the time he drugged and sodomised Kasolo.
Magistrate Joy Bahinguza of the Chief Magistrate’s Court of Mukono sentenced Muhammed to 10 years, for sodomising Kasolo on April 20,2013.
Muhammed received lighter sentence because he has a family where he is the sole bread-winner.
Pastor Moses Solomon Male, a renowned anti-sodomy activist, says he is satisfied with the conviction and sentence of Muhammed.
“The message has been sent loud and clear. That existing laws are strong enough to bring perpetrators of sodomy to book,”
“This is the first case to be decided since Parliament controversially passed the Anti-Homosexual Act that was successfully challenged in the constitutional court.”
Male adds: “It is a vote of confidence in our laws that they are strong, but only if institutions and those who man them do their job.”
For Kasolo, the successful conviction of his abuser, whom he trusted and respected as he tried to seek greener pastures as a welder at the steel company only brings temporary relief.
Deep down his heart, he told The Sunrise, a deep sense of injustice and pain persists, not to mention the loss of money spent in hospital bills, and loss of esteem through the traumatising two year trial as he battled his abuser.
“In a way I feel happy that my abuser was punished for his actions and that he will not come out soon. But the more I reflect about what happened to me, I get pain.
“In fact if it was not for the heavy counselling I received, I was going to commit suicide. It was too much for me. I couldn’t imagine that someone could do such a thing to me,” narrates Kasolo.
Kasolo’s ordeal was further complicated by doubts and suspicion among members of the public that he might have willingly surrendered for purposes of getting money.
Stands up to abusers
The heart-wrenching details of Kasolo’s gruelling fight for justice, is a painful tale of how he narrowly cheated death as the perpetrator succeeded on several occasions to compromise the police, judicial officers to punish the victim instead.
For example, doctors at Kawolo hospital performed a medical examination on Kasolo and found that the victim was in a very sorry state; including bleeding from the Anus, unable to hold his feaces, eyes paining and breathing heavily.
That notwithstanding, police went to Kawolo hospital a day after the victim had been admitted and asked the hospital to discharge him.
He was taken back to Lugazi Police Station, where he met with another man of Pakistan Origin, ostensibly to compromise him. After he maintaned his stand, the police decided to disregard his poor state of health, along with the hospital medical examination and dumped him in detention where he spent two painful days.
He was remanded for two days on grounds that he had committed an offence of giving false information to the police and accordingly remanded for two days.
In fact, had it not been because of the foul smell that came off Kasolo while in the difficult two-day Police detention that forced prisoners to riot, Kasolo would probably have died in cells considering the pain and state of health in which he was.
As Kasolo narrated to court, despite his sorry state, the police handcuffed him, was taken back to Kawolo hospital along with a police guard to stop him from ‘escaping’.
Fortunately, luck was still on Kasolo’s side as the police guard at his hospital bed, turned out to be his saviour when he allowed a good Samaritan to put the victim in contact with his relatives who came to his rescue.
Despite the ten-year sentence, the trial has brought to the fore systemic weaknesses across Uganda’s institutions, especially those that are charged with discharging justice including the police and courts.
As commented by Pastor Male, the officers who pulled Kasolo from hospital amid agony and dumped him in detention for two days on concocted charges of giving false information to the police, do not deserve to remain in service.
Male says: “Those police officers are not fit to be in service any longer. They betrayed their professional ethics and standards.” Male has as much disdain for the medical officer one Dr. Patra Kajja, whose evidence controversially and surprisingly contradicted those of three senior medical stating that the victim had been in good mental and physical state when she examined him.
Male says he is contemplating taking Kajja to the medical council for disciplinary action.
Rather than succumb to threats by those who promote sodomy, the first hand painful experience of the practice has instead strengthened his resolve to root out the practice, as long as it remains illegal in Uganda.
He says: “I cannot stop warning my fellow youth against the dangers that come from sodomy. My family and I had to raise over Ushs15m by selling property to pay my hospital bills. I also almost lost my marriage because everytime I tried to intimate with my wife, I would get a lot of pain, until I saw a doctor.”