IJM Kampala: After Terrifying Threats, Man Arrested and Widow Safe
- Fri, 02/15/2013
KAMPALA, UGANDA – Today, a Ugandan man who allegedly threatened to murder a widow and her six children in order to steal their land now waits in jail, thanks to collaboration between IJM Kampala and local police.
Several years ago, Ramona* had been bullied by her relatives to leave her home and give up her children. When they took her farmland—her family’s only source of food and income—she struggled to feed her children or keep them in school. Fortunately, IJM heard Ramona’s story in 2011 and stood up for her rights. IJM attorneys helped stop the threats against her and secured her land with official boundary markers in December 2012. It seemed she was safe at last.
But as Ramona began to return to normal life this year—setting up a small shop to sell vegetables she grew—another relative tried to force her from the land. He destroyed the boundary markers IJM had planted and made astonishing threats of violence to the young mother: He promised to kill her children with a machete, one by one, if she refused to leave.
Ramona was rightfully terrified. Just when she thought their troubles with the home were over, they were once again afraid to stay. She says, “Every time my children see [that relative], they are so scared—and I felt powerless.”
Apology No Remedy for Violent Threats
After these new threats, IJM worked quickly to hire private security to keep Ramona’s family safe. Next, IJM attorneys and investigators began working with police to plan an arrest.
But the man heard about the plans, and he tried to avoid being punished. He apologized to Ramona on his knees, saying he would replant the markers and leave her alone if she would drop the case. Remembering his terrifying threats and her scared children’s faces, Ramona stood firm.
In a carefully planned operation, IJM and local police arrested the man on Thursday and took him to jail. Today, he was officially charged in court with threatening violence and removing the widow’s boundary markers—charges that warrant up to seven years in prison. He will be held in custody until a bail hearing next week.
“After weeks of being terrorized and living in fear, last night Ramona and her children were finally able to lie down and sleep in peace.” -Deputy Field Office Director Kathryn Wilkes
Feeling Safe at Last
IJM will continue to post security at Ramona’s home as the case progresses. IJM Kampala’s Deputy Field Office Director Kathryn Wilkes says, “After weeks of being terrorized and living in fear, last night Ramona and her children were finally able to lie down and sleep in peace.”
With this violent man out of the community, the family can begin to feel safe once more. Ramona knows his arrest has sent a strong reminder to her in-laws and neighbors that it is wrong to abuse women like her.
“Now I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore,” Ramona says. “All the people who were behind him are going to respect me now. Now they know it’s wrong. They know I’m not weak. I have IJM to help me.”
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