On September 29, Chief Magistrate Miriam Ayo Okello sentenced Makerere University Senior Administrative Assistant Edward Kisuze to two years in prison or a fine of Shs 4m for indecently assaulting an alumna Racheal Njoroge Njeri.
Kisuze quickly settled for the fine. But for Njoroge, the victim, a guilty verdict and sentence do not necessarily bring closure to the assault incident and the subsequent trial that grinded on for two years and five months. Interviewed last week after Her Worship Ayo Okello announced the sentence, Njoroge told The Observer: “I don’t know how I am going to learn to live with my photos all over the internet. I will be glad if anyone can help me permanently erase these images because they keep tormenting me.”
She is concerned that the Makerere University administration did not protect her after she tendered her partially naked salacious images that helped support her case against Kisuze.
I shared my photos with the IT personnel and academic registrar on Monday [ in 2018] but my photos leaked the following day. This was so unfair because if I didn’t have those photos, no one would believe me,” Njoroge said in last week’s interview. “Makerere didn’t protect my privacy. Three days ago, I had shared similar photos with the police but none was released until I met Makerere officials.”
She added that she managed to capture four selfies but one photo that exposed her face was released. Njoroge said since the fateful day, Kisuze wanted an out-of-court settlement but she declined the various offers.
“Kisuze’s lawyer has been approaching me saying the man has suffered a lot and he is a family person. They first sent my former secondary teacher with an offer of Shs 10m and I chased him away. Later, the lawyer [Brian Serunjogi] came with an offer of Shs 15m and later increased it to Shs 20m but I could not equate my name to any amount,” she said, insisting that she lost job opportunities because of the incident.
When she went for a job interview during the trial of her case, she insisted that all went well but she didn’t get the job. A staffer at the organisation told her to first sort “my issues because my name and photos are all over the internet.”
On April 13, 2018 in room 507 of the university Senate Building, Kisuze attempted to have sex with Njoroge who had gone to the administrator’s office to get her transcript certified. When images of Kisuze’s face buried in Njoroge’s thighs spilled into public view, there was a public uproar. He was charged with two counts; attempted rape and indecent assault.
In court, Njoroge was represented by the state, which relied on evidence of 10 witnesses while Kisuze, who gave unsworn evidence, didn’t call any witness. He was led by his lawyer Brian Serunjogi. In her ruling on September 29, Chief Magistrate Miriam Ayo Okello sentenced Kisuze to two years in prison or a fine of Shs 4m. He opted for a fine. Okello acquitted Kisuze on the charge of attempted rape on grounds that prosecution did not convince court that there was an attempt by him to have unlawful sex with Njoroge.
Instead, she convicted him on the alternative count of indecent assault. According to Okello, an attempt to have carnal knowledge means an attempt to penetrate the vagina of the victim, however slight, by the offender’s sexual organ.
“There was an act of pulling out the penis [by Kisuze], which the victim [Njoroge] refused to touch. The accused knelt down and started kissing her thighs and used his fingers to try to touch her private parts. The evidence on record shows the panty or patra of the victim was never removed and this clearly shows that there was an assault indecently on the victim,” Okello ruled.
She was, however, satisfied that the accused was indeed at the scene of crime as per evidence adduced and dismissed Kisuze’s defense. In his defense, Okello quoted Kisuze as saying: “I got up, lifted her, and struggled to sit her in the visitor’s chair. I tried to get drinking water for her, and then in the process she started regaining her consciousness. In the process, she started crying and asking what I was doing with her.”
“She pulled out her phone while crying, I tried to calm her down, she was busy dialing. I pulled the phone from her because she was crying and she pulled it back from me, picked her belongings, the envelope, and opened the door and moved out.”
Okello said, “if the victim fainted in the accused’s office and he didn’t know what to do as he said, why couldn’t he call for help or alert his other bosses…since the situation was beyond his control.”
When asked whether she was satisfied with the ruling, Njoroge said: “I didn’t go to court to get money but to clear my name because false information was all over social media. The Shs 4m went to the state, not on my account. I am glad we got a conviction although the punishment surprised me, too, but I have nothing to do.”