NYAGATARE - The Nyagatare Intermediate Court has come out to denounce the increase in cases connected to rape and defilement in the district.
According to court records, 45 out of the 50 cases received by the district court each month, are related to defilement.
Between May and August 2010, the court received 823 cases of which 699 were defilement with victims being children under 14 years.
In an interview with The New Times, John Byakatonda, the president of Nyagatare Intermediate Court, attributed the high rate of defilement in the district to high influx of illicit drugs in the district.
“Most of the victims are children under the age of 14. I think defilement ranks high in the district compared to other places in the country. Most of the culprits we receive commit such crimes after consuming those illicit drugs,” he said.
Nyagatare district borders with neighbouring Uganda where most of the illicit brew commonly known as ‘Kanyanga’ are said to come from.
Byakatonda blamed parents who send their children to go and fetch water long distancess alone, graze cows far from their homes and entrust them with herdsmen.
Some parents who talked to The New Times, acknowledged blame for child defilement.
Delphine Mukamunana, a resident of Gatunda sector said that most families do not take defilement cases seriously.
“Some parents do not take defilement as a serious crime. There are some of them who don’t even report such cases to Police,” she said.
Joseph Rwabukumba, a resident of Karama sector, said some residents in the district believe its part of culture and appealed to the district to take tough action against the vice.
Byakatonda explained that in a bid to stem the vice, suspects are tried at the scene of crime.
“We have decided to handle most of these cases at the grassroots level where the crime took place.
The intention of this initiative is to show residents that the crime attracts tough punishments, including life imprisonment handed to the culprits as a deterrent,” he said.
He added that names and sentences of those convicted of defilement are pinned at local leaders’ offices to expose them.
Commenting on the reports, on Tuesday, Nyagatare district vice Mayor in charge of Social affairs, Rebecca Karungi, said the district has embarked on awareness campaigns to protect children.
“This issue has become so serious but we have organised a number of training sessions where residents are sensitized on the dangers of this crime. We have also extended these to women’s council representatives in all corners of the district,” she said.