An unidentified 45-year-old parish chief in the Rakai District of Uganda has been granted bond after he was arrested for keeping his mentally ill son locked in a room for seven years.
The chief claimed to have kept his son hidden to protect him from his other children. The now 13-year-old was locked up since he was six-years-old, reports local media Daily Monitor.
The father insists the boy was very well taken care of and the allegations levied against him are untrue.
The boy was reportedly fed once every two days, not allowed to use a plate and ate his own excrement to survive.
Police took action after Fr Rafael Tebukozza, a priest received information stating that a boy “was being locked in a cage and barked like a dog.”
Fr Tebukozza, accompanied by police officers and the police commander of the Rakai District later confirmed the rumors when he visited the residence. Fr Tebukozza called the chief out of his home and then instructed him to open the door that led to where the boy was being kept.
“I could not believe what I saw. It is quite obvious that his parents had intentionally left him to rot in a room, but the living God saved him and we are going to take care of him as a church,” Fr Tebukooza was quoted by the Daily Monitor.
“His hair looked like a sheep’s skin whereas his nails were very long and looked like claws. Despite his age, the boy could hardly speak. Worse still, he was so malnourished that onlookers thought he was only four years old,” he added.
The room was said to have an unbearable stench.
The suspect was immediately apprehended and taken to the police station.
Josephine Naluggwa, the boy’s mother was led to believe that her son was in Canada receiving treatment. “The suspect took the boy away from me at the age of six and said he had got Good Samaritans from Canada who were ready to treat him for free. I continuously asked for updates about the boy’s situation, but was told to be patient because the child was to return very soon,” Naluggwa stated.
Neighbors reported the maltreatment but stated that no action was taken.
Mr. Joseph Ssendagi, the Rakai District probation officer said, “We struggled so much to ensure that the suspect got arrested. I now wonder why Police can’t help in forwarding his case file to court. We are not going to rest until he is arrested and charged in court.”
However, Mr. Grace Pande, the Rakai District criminal investigations officer said no one had logged any complaints, confirming, “I don’t even know what you are talking about. No one has reported such a case here.”
Allegedly the suspect’s wife fled after police came to their home. She is still being sought.
The suspect was asked to explain his motive and to apologize to Naluggwa and the community. He awarded her SHS 200,000 or $53.49 and gave a few items but did not express remorse to the community or his ex-wife.
Some church members have partnered up and will now look after the boy.
The boy’s father will allegedly be re-arrested.