Uganda: Mujuni – Overcoming Rape and Amputation


On one of the nights of November 2017, Charlotte Kangume, also known as Charlie Mujuni, was woken up by a strange noise of someone opening her bedroom door.

“Who is there?” Mujuni asked. No response.

Seconds later, two strange looking men dashed past the door, and stood in front of her bed. Mujuni that night, had not locked her bedroom door and had left the lights on.

The dark-skinned duo were of average height in black jackets and gloves. They looked to be in their 20s.

Scared, Mujuni sat on her bed and asked who they were and what they wanted.

“We heard that you have about Shs2m. Hand it over,” one of them instructed Mujuni.

“We also have information that your mother has Shs700,000 with her, we want it,” the man added.

Mujuni wondered who exactly had fed such information to the men. But, this was no time to reel her brain, but try to deal with the situation at hand. The men persistently demanded for the money.

“Hand over the money right now!” they commanded.

Mujuni told the intruders that she did not have any money. The duo went ahead and checked every bag in the bedroom until they found Shs500,000.

After finding the money, they repeatedly asked which bedroom her mother was sleeping in.

“I told them to leave my mother alone and that there was no way she would have any money on her since she is a housewife,” Mujuni recalls.

“You must be joking,” one of the men shouted back at her.

The men threatened Mujuni that if she failed to cooperate, they would harm her. The duo claimed to have a gun and knife. As events unfolded, other occupants of the house did not seem to hear what was going on. These included her mother, younger brother and the house help.

Mujuni got trapped with the men.

“I knew I was finished. I remember at some point slouching back on my bed and covering my head with a blanket,” she says.

Mujuni kept hoping and praying that the invaders would take the money and leave her. This did not happen.

The sexual assault

A few moments later, one of the men threw himself on the bed, uncovered Mujuni and commanded her to open her legs.

“No!” She responded.

The man threatened that if she did not cooperate, he would harm her.

Mujuni trembled and did not know what to do at this point. She broke down into tears and insisted on saying, “no.”

The man eventually overpowered and raped her.

“I wondered why God was allowing such a horrible thing to happen,” she says.

The second intruder told his colleague (the rapist) that they needed to leave the house immediately. It was about 2am.

As they left the room, the house help found them in the corridor seemingly trying to figure out how to leave the house.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” asked the maid.

One of the men slapped her across the face. In that moment, Mujuni says she heard something disturbing.

“I was in my bedroom crying, but could also hear conversations in the corridor. I was in utter shock when one of the men said to his colleague that the slap was unnecessary since the house help was part of the deal,” she says.

Despite the revelation, Mujuni remained inside her bedroom, crying. The house help opened for the intruders and they left.

A few moments later, the other two occupants of the house woke up.

That night, Mujuni was rushed to Span Medicare in Kisaasi and was given immediate medical attention. Part of the treatment included receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), an antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure. She was also given an emergency contraceptives to prevent any pregnancy.

The following day, she was referred to other health facilities for other tests. Meanwhile, the case was reported to police who followed it up.

No justice

Police rounded up a few men from the neighbourhood and Mujuni was told to identify some of them.

“I failed to identify any of them as a suspect,” she relates.

Police also interrogated the house help as a key suspect.

“She denied being part of the deal. The truth was however revealed after her phone was searched and some information discovered,” Mujuni says.

Eventually, the family found out that the house help accepted to be part of the deal because one of the men involved in the scheme had promised her marriage.

The two intruders were never found by police. Although the maid was arrested and detained, she was released in January 2018. Mujuni says her family members do not know where she is today.

Mujuni says justice has not been served for the perpetrators of the crime.

“But what to do?”

Life after

Mujuni is thankful that at least she did not get pregnant or acquire HIV after the assault. On coping after the ordeal, Mujuni says her family members and friends have provided a great support system.

“They have been there for me through thick and thin and that is how I have managed to pull through this,” she says.

“I am also grateful to my churchmates from Watoto for standing by me, praying, and making some financial contributions towards my treatment.”

Ever since the incident, the family resolved never to hire house helps.

The accident

As Mujuni was still recovering from the sexual assault, another ordeal befell her on the evening of January 26, 2018. As she returned from a party late with a couple of friends. One of the tyres of their car got stuck in a trench. They got out and tried to lift it out of the ditch as one person sat behind the wheel stepping on the accelerator.

Mujuni stood in front of a fence that was a few metres away from the car.

The driver over accelerated and the car leapt, crashed onto the fence ramming into her legs in the process. She was rushed to Life Link Hospital in Kyaliwajjala. She was given treatment which was accompanied by tests such as X-rays to detect the state of her internal body organs. It was discovered she had suffered internal bleeding.

She was then referred to China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Naguru where further examinations were conducted.

“It was while there that doctors discovered I had a fractured bone in my lower left leg. A surgery was conducted to fix the broken bone using (medical) plates to hold the bone in place,” she says.

The following week after the surgery, Mujuni was able to move using the support of a walking aid. However, she noticed that the cut behind her knee constantly bled. Meanwhile, her toes on the injured leg had, one by one, started turning black.

Upon realising the deteriorating health of her leg, Mujuni went back to the Naguru facility. Three surgeries followed. One surgery was aimed at reconnecting veins aimed at bringing life back to the leg. It did not work.

Eventually, she was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, a condition where pressure builds in a muscle to the extent that blood may stop flowing to a particular body tissue.

“The doctors later told me that compartment syndrome had turned into dry gangrene characterised by dry skin and in my case my feet were turning black,” she says.

“And there was no way around it, the doctors immediately suggested amputation as a way of preventing toxins spreading to other parts of the body from the infected leg. I was told that if we delayed the surgery, other serious complications such as body organ failure would arise.”

On February 8, 2018, Mujuni finally agreed to the amputation of her lower left leg.

“I agreed to it to save my life,” she says.

Life after the surgery

Shortly after the amputation, Mujuni says she made a few lifestyle changes.

“Before the sexual assault and the accident, I used to love going out, partying and drinking. All that has changed. I stopped drinking and now, I am more focused on living a better life and changing people’s perspectives on disability, and sexual assault,” she says.

Shortly after the amputation, Mujuni says she promised God that if He sailed with her through the ordeal, she would be a good girl.

“And that is what I am trying to be, an upright girl,” the 28-year-old says.

Otherwise, Mujuni, graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree at Nkumba University in 2015, says she does not feel sorry for herself after the past two ordeals.

“I am the kind of person who easily moves on. I let go of things easily,” she says, adding, “It’s for this reason that I was able to cope fast.”

Mujuni emphasises, “I am still beautiful. I love myself despite my one leg,” she says.

Currently, she is practising how to walk with her prosthetic left leg.

“I keep teasing people that once I have learnt how to walk with it, I am going to slay (flaunt her looks) until people get tired of me,” she says.

Mujuni is single, and works as an administrator and bursar at Thumbelina Nursery and Daycare in Kampala.

Milestone

On April 6, Malengo Foundation, a youth-led organisation which works towards the social inclusion of persons with disabilities, launched the Girl 50-50 Forum under the theme, “honouring ability”.

The initiative is aimed at recognising and celebrating girls and women with disabilities at the same time, recognising their abilities and contribution to society.

Mujuni was one of the six women recognised at the event. She received an accolade under the “Make it Happen Honoree” category for her faith and resilience for overturning her story in a short time by not letting tribulations define her life.

She continues to pursue her goals regardless of her painful past. And today, she is a co-founder of the Amputee Support Network Uganda that aims at offering psychosocial support, empowerment and advocacy for people dealing with amputations.

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Publish date : 2019-04-28 12:53:22

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