More than 500 pupils from different primary schools gathered at Kakuuto Sub-county Headquarters to commemorate the Day of the African Child yesterday.
But a common call by all was the re-arrest of John Lubowa (42), the Director of St. Johns Primary School-Kyotera who allegedly raped a13-year-old pupil.
Lubowa was freed on 14th March, 2013 under unclear circumstances without being tried in courts of law despite medical reports from Kalisizo hospital confirming the pupil had suffered forceful sex.
The young voices stood their ground demanding justice for John Lubowa’s rape victim and also called for the Inspector General of Police General Edward Kale Kayihura’s intervention in the matter.
The Day of the African Child is commemorated every 16th June but the district authorities decided to hold it yesterday. But this time the celebrations were marred by claims and accusations of rape, defilement, indecent assault, and incest by many speakers.
The pupils’ call came after several protests by children rights activists led by African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse (ANPPCAN) opposing Lubowa’s release claiming was unfair.
Emmanuel Lukanga, a pupil of Kitovu Farm School, said that teachers and some family members use the advantage of their authority over children to rape, molest or defile children and most times nothing is done about it. He explained that whoever his caught in the act must face justice in courts of law.
Nickson Kalyango also reported that female teachers often dress skimpily and expose their thighs in front of the classroom which divert their attention from what’s being taught.
Sylvia Nakaggwa, another pupil, claimed that male teachers always sneak into their dormitories and molest them in darkness.
She further added that sometimes the teachers use special coaching as an advantage while others send the pupils to their homes where they rape or molest them from.
Susan Nakawojwa, the District Probation Officer, told journalists at the function that Lubowa raped the girl from his coffee plantation at Kigenya village in Kyotera where she had gone to pick coffee on his orders as the director.
She said Lubowa’s release has since caused worry and fear among children and parents.
She explained that many children have been abused in many ways and they are victims of mistreatment, child trafficking, rape, defilement, intimidation, molestation, indecent assault among others.
Activists from ANPPCAN claim that being a rich man, several Lubowa has strong ties with prominent politicians and top police detectives in Rakai and Masaka district who have always helped him settle alleged rape and defilement cases out of court.
Angelo Ssempeera, the Assistant Programmes coordinator for ANPPCAN, said that more than 30 rape cases are recorded every year in Rakai district but very few are reported and the ones reported are always manipulated by police officers.
Ssempeera added that there are two other unsolved rape cases linked to Lubowa which were reported last year but police has done nothing about them.
He appealed to parents, teachers and district leaders join the fight against child abuse to create a better environment for their education and future.
Mr. James Kaboggoza Sembatya, the Assistant Commissioner for Children Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, who was the guest of honour appealed to parents, teachers, police, judges and district leaders to up their effort to wipe out rampant child abuse in the district.
He castigated police and government officials for not taking seriously the issue of rape, molestation and defilement saying that many suspects have never faced the law because cases were abandoned.
He pledged to work with government and district leaders so as to get a representative for children in courts or police to ensure that all suspected child abusers are arrested and taken to court for justice.
However, several parents were irked by the failure of district leaders including MPs, RDC, CAO, LC5 Chairman among others to attend the function.
Parents, teachers and organizers retorted saying that district leaders are fond of snubbing important functions which is a bad practice as far as the district development is concerned.
When contacted about the case, Rose Nabakooza the district Criminal Investigations Officer said investigations are still on.