By Omar Bah
A Manjai Kunda mother, whose 13-year-old son was allegedly raped by one Muhammed Kuye, has expressed shock and disappointment over the man’s release from detention on bail.
“This is someone who had admitted to sodomising a number of young boys. We want him arrested and taken to court. We want to see him in jail. I will neither feel safe nor happy until he is put in a cell.” Awa Saho told The Standard.
The man allegedly sodomised the boy ‘many’ times, with all the incidents happening in his house in Manjai. He later allegedly left Manjai for a village in Nuimi.
He was arrested last April after days of manhunt by the police with help from the boy’s mother.
“I don’t know whether he was taken to court or not. No one in the police told me anything. I just heard from people that he was recently granted bail. How can they do that without informing us? I don’t have a lawyer or anyone to help me fight for justice for my son. He suffered a lot. He is yet to recover,” the victim’s mother added.
She said she felt her son was not safe with the man around.
“This is why I have taken him far away from where we live for his safety. I am worried because I have seen people accused of similar acts roam freely in our streets. This has to stop. Our sons and daughters cannot continue to remain insecure in their own country,” she added.
The mother had earlier said in an audio message that the man would tell her son not to tell anyone because his mother risked dying if he disclosed what transpired.
“The child was always afraid to tell me but one day when luck was about to run out on him, I had gone out and when coming I brought some stuff for the kids in a bag. He (my son) ran to me and took the bag off my head and took it to the kitchen
“While we were in the kitchen unpacking, he said to me, ‘mom’ and I said, ‘yes’. He then said to me, ‘something happened’. I asked him, ‘what happened?’ He said to me, ‘mom, I am afraid, they said if I told you I am going to die and my dad too’. I told him, ‘no, the person who told you that is lying’. I asked him to tell me.
“He said to me, ‘mom, that boy that comes here…’ He described him and told me, ‘he comes here and would find me playing and he would take me and remove my pants and put his penis in my anus and when he does that, he would ask me to run home before it gets dark,” the mother said.
The national coordinator of Child Protection Alliance Lamin Fatty told The Standard the government should be more aggressive in creating an enabling environment for children.
“On the issue of granting bail…rape is termed as a capital offence. It is clearly stated in the constitution that capital offences are non-bailable. But you have contradiction in the Sexual Offences Act of 2013 which has created a room and has given magistrates or judges to use their discretion to grant alleged rapists bail.
“It is a concern because most of the cases are not prosecuted according to our expectation and we have seen perpetrators that have been granted bail they hardly appear in court because in many instances these cases are compromised,” he said.
Fatty said the government should redouble its efforts to bridge the loopholes in the country’s laws.
“The way judgements are made in this country is an insult to victims of abuse. We have seen of recent where a person was sentenced to pay D20, 000 for raping a 13-year-old girl on the basis that the perpetrator was suffering from tuberculosis. So really our whole child protection system is something that we are not proud of,” he added.
When contacted for comments, police spokesperson Superintendent Lamin Njie said the police have completed their investigations and sent the case file to the Attorney General’s Chambers for legal advice.
“However, I am made to understand that the National Agency for Legal Aid had filed a bail motion at the High Court and that’s how Muhammed Kuye was granted bail by Justice Jaiteh,” PRO Njie added.