10 January 2013

Uganda: How Fake Doctors Con Ugandans

Police are hunting for a host of suspected fake witch-doctors who con people out of huge sums of money.

The hunt comes hot on the heels of the recent rape of a 57-year-old Robinah Namubiru. They also stole Shs 15m from her. Namubiru, who hails from Kyoga village, Wakiso district, was raped in a witch-doctors' shrine and at her home. In May 2011, Namubiru sold a piece of land in Mbarara at Shs 15m. While at her home, she was approached by a one Eddy Mulindwa, aka Jajja Mukubya Gulu.

He pretended to know her well and volunteered to connect her to a witch-doctor so she could acquire wealth and buy another plot of land.

"When Mulindwa approached me, he said he saw me in his dream and he was ordered by his spirits to come and talk to me to find ways of solving my problems. This stranger started narrating my historical problems which made me believe that he was a genuine person who had come to help me," lamented Namubiru.

"Since I had had a lot of problems in the past, I welcomed his assistance and he promised to connect me to a witch-doctor to cleanse me so that I could acquire riches," she told The Observer.

But Mulindwa had simply orchestrated a plan to fleece Namubiru, after getting some information from her relatives and friends, and learning that she had sold her land and had some money.

"He convinced me to buy things worth Shs 7m including a cow, goats, sheep, hens, clothes and promised to take me to a witch-doctor to cleanse me of my problems,"

"After giving him Shs 7m, inside my house, he pulled out a handkerchief and threw it at me and asked me to wrap the money in it. I lost all my senses after he threw his hankie on my knees and I stopped talking but I could see. After some minutes, Mulindwa forced himself on me and raped me but I was too weak to shout," reveals Namubiru, who could have been doused with chloroform.

The witch-doctor fled and when Namubiru contacted him on phone, he threatened to kill her using spirits.

"They also threatened to send me dangerous spirits to throw me in an accident if I told anybody that they had raped me or vanished with my money. I lived in terrible fear but they persuaded me to give them another Shs 7m promising to cleanse all my problems and in return I would receive Shs 100m which I could use to buy another plot," recalls Namubiru.

She reluctantly gave the duo another Shs 7m.

"They took me to their shrine at Mabumbwe village, Wakiso district, promising to cleanse me of all my problems and help me acquire riches but they ended up raping me again after making me lose my senses," says Namubiru.

The duo vanished with the cash after abandoning her in the shrine.

"When I regained consciousness, I called them and their phones were switched off for about a month. I kept on tracing them from the shrine but I couldn't find them," said Namubiru.

Namubiru was in a state of despair. She felt the police would not help because they had been compromised.

"It was until my friend reported these conmen to Central Police Station (CPS) in the crime intelligence office, that I got help," says Namubiru.

"When we got that information, we managed to arrest these suspects who will appear in court any time on charges of theft, obtaining money by false pretence and rape," says Musa Birunda, the head of crime intelligence unit.

Obtaining money by false pretence is the third most reported offence in the country, after common assault and defilement, Birunda says.

"These cases are increasing because the witch-doctors are promoting themselves on radios by giving fake testimonies which influence people and they end up being conned," he said. "These... suspects keep on changing names by calling themselves pastors, witch-doctors or sheikhs to con people in different categories of faith."

Namubiru is relieved about one thing: "I have tested four times for HIV ever since I was raped by these fake witch-doctors but my results were negative. I want these conmen to refund my money," she said.

Police on Tuesday also arrested four conmen who have been posing as pastors or witch-doctors. They are accused of defiling three girls at their churches and homes. The suspects have been identified as Joram of Namulesa, Moses Kyeyune of Bulenga, Kizza Salongo of Bugembegembe, Wakiso district and Jajja Byuma.

Police said these suspects ensnared the girls with promises of scholarships to study abroad. According to highly placed sources at CPS, the suspects were arrested last week and held at Wakiso police station but were released after bribing officers at the station with Shs 1.5m. They had tested HIV positive.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Ibn Senkumbi said they were working with the leader of traditional healers, Mama Fina, to screen all the witch-doctors in the country and isolate the fake ones who con people.

Ssenkumbi called upon all the victims to report at the nearby police station or call police toll- free lines, 0800199199, 0800199299, 0800200019, 0800909199, 0800909299 and 0800200019.

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