On Friday, the commission of inquiry investigating land related fraud discovered that Hajji Swaibu Yigga who has been cited in massive land grabbing in Nakaseke district inhumanely tortured a 15 year old boy for suspecting him of stealing his farming equipment.
A 15 year old boy identified as Steven Mukunja Matovu who resides in Kabira village, Mizingo sub-county in Nakaseke district gave a saddening testimony to the commission narrating the terrible experience he went through.
Matovu said that he was one of the young children that Swaibu had employed to work as a casual laborer on his maize plantation in Mizingo.
In its investigations, the commission led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has heard from numerous testimonies how Swaibu disguised himself as a surveyor and ended up amassing huge chunks of land from bonafide occupants. Over 500 people who have been settling on the land located in the villages of Balatira, Mizimbo, Naluvule and Senda risk being displaced.
In a cross examination led by Ebert Byenkya, the lead counsel to the commission, Matovu said; “Hajji told me that I stole his hoes, 15 pangas, 5 boxes of pesticides, wallet containing Ugx. 80,000 and a sack of rice.”
The victim who appeared before the commission with his mother Teddy Najjuma, 46 added; “Hajji and his driver took me to his maize plantation, undressed my clothes rippig my buttons off and then his driver pressed my head against the car seat while Hajji sat on my legs and squeezed my testicles.”
Below is a full text of Matovu’s testimony verbatim:
Byenkya: I see you are a young boy, how do you know Swaibu?
Matovu: I know him. He used to grow maize in the swamp in Mizimbo (sub-county)
Byenkya: And what does that got to do with you?
Matovu: He told me that we should go and plant maize.
Byenkya: Where did he find you to tell you that?
Matovu: At home.
Byenkya: Tell us where you live.
Byenkya: No, when you say home, can you give us a description how he came to find you there.
Matovu: He came in a vehicle.
Byenkya: Did he come looking for you specifically?
Matovu: He came looking for casual laborers.
Byenkya: So are you one of those he hired?
Byenkya: Okay. So, he gave you a job. What is the problem?
Matovu: The problem he accused me of stealing his hoes.
Byenkya: What else? Was that all?
Matovu: 15 pangas, 5 boxes of pesticides and a wallet containing Ugx. 80,000 and a bag of rice.
Byenkya: Why do you think he suspected you? Were you keeping these things for him?
Byenkya: Did you steal them?
Matovu: No, sir.
Byenkya: So you are accused of stealing. Then what happened next?
Matovu: We paid.
Byenkya: Who paid?
Matovu: My mother.
Byenkya: What did she have to pay?
Matovu: She paid Ugx. 1,100,000.
Byenkya: Can you explain why she paid if you didn’t steal these things?
Matovu: Hajji said we should pay and that failure to do this, we would get imprisoned.
Byenkya: So, when you she us, does it mean you and some other person?
Matovu: My mother.
Byenkya: Were you arrested? Were you reported to police?
Matovu: Police found us at the LC1 Chairman’s place.
Justice Bamugemereire: Who took you there?
Byenkya: So he came to your home and took you to the Chairman?
Byenkya: Do you recall the name of the police officer who found you there?
Matovu: The name has been written in my statement. But I don’t know it off head.
Bamugemereire: Was it a policeman or a woman?
Matovu: It was a man.
Byenkya: Were you charged? Did you spend any time in the police cells?
Matovu: No. I stayed at home. My mother protested against taking me to the police.
Byenkya: So you didn’t go to the Chairman’s place?
Matovu: We were there. But the issues were later resolved from home. Even the Chairman was present.
Byenkya: So, how did you resolve it?
Matovu: We paid Hajji.
Byenkya: Was there any sort of other conduct against you except paying? We heard that you had some experiences before that.
Byenkya: Please tell us about it and how exactly it happened.
Matovu: Hajji squeezed my genitals using a pair of pliers.
Byenkya: How did that happen? Was it before he took you to the Chairman or after that?
Matovu: It was before that. We were still in his maize plantation.
Byenkya: Was that the day you were accused of stealing his farming tools?
Byenkya: Did all that happen in the plantation?
Matovu: He found me at the houses and took me down to the plantation.
Byenkya: Were you alone with him or was there somebody else?
Matovu: He had his driver.
Byenkya: Do you know the driver’s name?
Matovu: I have forgotten his name.
Bamugemereire; Tell us how it happened. In your own words.
Matovu: He undressed me. And brought the pliers.
Bamugemereire: When you say that he undressed you, did he remove your shirt or your trousers?
Matovu: He first removed my clothes and tore my buttons. Then the driver pressed my head and then Hajji got pliers and squeezed me.
Bamugemereire: When you say the driver held your head, just describe which part the driver held and which part Swaibu held.
Matovu: Driver pressed my head against the car seat pillow and Hajji sat on my legs and squeezed my genitals with pliers.
Byenkya: Was he telling you anything in the process?
Matovu: He told me he could kill me and leave me in the maize plantation.
Byenkya: So what happened?
Matovu: Afterwards he told me to open my mouth but I refused. Then, he pressed my jaws forcing me to open my mouth and then he brought out my tongue and squeezed it with the pliers.
Byenkya: So, what is your condition now?
Matovu: Since then, whenever am urinating, I see blood in my urine.
Byenkya: Have you been treated for this condition?
Matovu: My uncle took me to Kiwoko hospital where I got some treatment.
Byenkya: Is there anything else you would want to tell us?
Matovu: I would love the commission to assist me by compelling Hajji to foot my medical bills.
Commissioner Robert Sebunya: With all that torture, what did your mother do?
Matovu: She didnt do anything.
Matovu: She had nowhere else to get restitution.
Sebunya: Was she scared of Hajji in case she reported?
Matovu: She would have reported to police but it was Hajji who invited the police to come home
Sebunya: Do you have a medical report?
Sebunya: Do you have it here?
Swbunya: Why did Hajji pick you, torture you and accuse you of stealing his things?
Matovu: Hajji hired us to weed his maize. So, when his hoes went missing, he confiscated the hoes that we used to get from home.
Sebunya: Has he tortured any other casual laborer apart from you?
Matovu: There’s someone who was stabbed with a knife by Hajji.
Sebunya: Do you know his name?
Matovu: No, I don’t know.
Sebunya: Where does he stay?
Matovu: Manywa village.
Sebunya: Do you know his parents?
Matovu: I don’t know.
Commissioner Mary Oduka Ochan: How much did your mother pay to Swaibu and how?
Matovu: She paid him Ugx. 1,100,000. She sold off her cow.
Ochan: Does she have any cow left?
Matovu: She has two cows.
Ochan: Are you the only person in your family who was working for Hajji?
Matovu: There’s another one.
Ochan: Who is that?
Matovu: My brother.
Ochan: Is he older than you or younger than you?
Matovu: I am older than him.
Commissioner Dr. Rose Nakayi: Do you go to school?
Matovu: I used to go to school but since Hajji squeezed me, I have not gone back
Nakayi: What class were you in?
Nakayi: Why didn’t you go back?
Matovu: I was tortured and wasn’t feeling well
Bamugemereire: Can you explain a little bit more? When you say you were not feeling well, what was that condition that stopped you from going to class.
Matovu: My genitals were swollen.
Bamugemereire: Could you walk properly?
Matovu: I couldn’t walk on my own. I was being supported.
Nakayi: Are there other children that Swaibu hires to work for him or is it adults?
Matovu: He uses both children and old people.
Bamugemereire: I don’t know whether you are in position to answer this or your mother. Did your family ever have to give any of your land to Swaibu?
Bamugemereire: That’s all I wanted to know.
Bamugemereire: When you say that he held you and pressed you, you said you sat in the seat of a car. Was there a car in the maize garden?
Bamugemereire: So he drove his vehicle in the middle of the garden. We’re you actually inside the vehicle?
Matovu: It is his driver that drove.
Bamugemereire:Should I think that by the time he presses your balls, you are naked?
Bamugemereire: I’m going to ask a question that is obvious but important. Did you scream?