By Dr Ian Clarke
Last week I wrote about our doctor from IHK who was missing, and we were desperately hoping that she would turn up safe. But this was not to be. Dr Agaba’s body was found dumped in the septic tank by the security guard who murdered her. She was already dead by the time I wrote that column.
When I was informed that the security guard had been traced and told the police where to find the body, I went to the house where she stayed. I arrived just after the fire brigade had removed the body and taken it for post mortem. While I was there some journalists accosted me for an interview, but the loss of this young doctor and the circumstances left me speechless.
The property contains a large unfinished apartment block, a house for the landlord, and another small house where Dr Agaba stayed. On the Friday evening, the only person at home was the landlady, and when Dr Agaba came back around eight p.m. the guard grabbed and throttled her, as she bent down to come in through the small gate. I will not go into other details but after he killed her he disposed of the body and continued to stay around as if nothing had happened. Hence when she was reported missing he told the police that he had seen her leaving on Saturday morning with a backpack and a roll away bag.
After a few days, when he realized that the police were becoming suspicious of him he made a big display of wailing after he had received a phone call that his father had died suddenly, and he urgently needed to go for the burial. When he had gone the police found some of her things in his room and asked the landlady to call him while they listened in. On the call he was very evasive as to where exactly he was, but the security forces were able to track his phone and arrested him in Oyam.
I have witnessed many terrible events in my life but the murder of Dr Cathy has been one of the most horrendous. She was a promising young doctor at the beginning of her career. She was only twenty-six but had already completed her internship and was in her second year as a medical officer.
Despite being a practicing doctor Cathy was also a young woman who was vulnerable, but she took her own safety seriously and was actually in the process of moving from that house because she was effectively the only tenant. She was not the kind of person who stayed out late or exposed herself to danger, yet she was still viciously attacked and murdered by the very person who was supposed to be protecting her.
Since her murder I have talked to a number of young women who are living in fear, wondering if they are safe, and I know of several girls who have been mugged recently and their bags or phones stolen. This all raises the question as to how we are protecting women who are physically the weaker sex. Women and children need extra care and protection, yet Cathy’s murderer saw her as a girl he could prey upon. He cold-bloodedly planned the attack, and then stayed around to bolster his cover story. In the light of this attack I think that we need to take special measures to ensure the protection of women.
This first starts with education of men to change their attitude that women are their property to be treated as they see fit. I am sure that there are many attacks and assaults on women in the village that go completely unreported, because there is a tacit acceptance of these values. If we had the ‘Me Too’ movement in Uganda how many men would be innocent? There is also an opinion, sometimes voiced by politicians, that if a woman dresses provocatively she is to blame if she is attacked. This is absolutely wrong, and men cannot take advantage of women for any reason. It is for men to control their own urges because once one accepts such rationale one ends up justifying rape and murder.
Secondly, we need to enforce vetting of security guards. I use a well-known security company because they have all the information on their guards. In the case of a private guard the employer is supposed to register the guard with his LC1 after he presents a letter of good character from the LC1 where he was previously resident. The guard who murdered Cathy had been on the job for less than a month, so what was known about him?
Thirdly we are our brother’s keeper, or in this case our sister’s keeper, so let us act as protectors and be mindful of those who are vulnerable or might be targeted.