Joseph Nkunda, 54, is a pastoralist in the rural district of Nakasongola along the Kampala-Gulu highway.
In February, he left his two children Canaan, 10, and Sylvia Nkunda, 7, who had just returned from school to look after the cattle and he went to a nearby market to fetch food to cook.
No sooner had he left, a man the children did not recognise approached them with a glittering machete claiming that the cows had destroyed his garden. The children denied the claim, but the man who seemed angrier by the minute insisted and asked them to move ahead of him so he can show them the garden the cows grazed.
“He commanded them to walk ahead of him so he could go and show them the garden that the cows had allegedly destroyed and since he had the machete, they could not object,” Nkunda said.
When they got to a shrub nearby, he motioned the children to sit on the ground. The boy refused, but the witch grabbed him by the neck and his sister by the hands.
“He cut the boy’s neck from behind and the boy fell flat, lifeless, unconscious and bleeding profusely. He left him for dead and then cut the girl into several pieces, drained her blood, took her heart and her genitals,” the father recounted.
On the spot, Slyvia Nkunda died. The boy was only half dead although the witchdoctor thought he was dead. Upon his return, Joseph Nkunda could not believe his eyes to find his children – ones he left alive and well an hour ago – lying lifeless in the jungle. He also fainted.
He was discovered by a good Samaritan who called out to other colleagues and the father, son and the dead sister were moved to hospital and the girl to their home where she was later put to final rest.
With the help of a local NGO, Kyampisi Children’s Ministries, Nkunda met the enormous medical bills that brought his son back to life. When we met the 19-year-old Nkunda at Serena Hotel on Friday, November 30, he couldn’t hold back his tears while talking about his little sister and how the “butcher” mercilessly wielded his machete in his direction.
“Even when I go to school now, I think about her and what we would be doing together,” he says.
His performance in school has also been a special case for every time he tries to concentrate, the images of the man who attempted to take his life resurfaces in his mind – the last image with almost died seeing.
Although the witchdoctor was identified, arrested and sentenced to life in prison, the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda still abounds.
Over 100 child sacrifice cases are reported every year mostly targeting school going children who are considered pure for the gods to receive and offer rewards of wealth in return.
According to Pastor Peter Sewakiryanga, the co-founder of Kyampisi Childcare Ministries, Child sacrifice has risen because people have “become lovers of money. They want to get richer.”
“They have a belief that when you sacrifice a child you get wealth, and there are people who are willing to buy these children for a price. So they have become a commodity of exchange, child sacrifice has become a commercial business,” the Pastor says.
Organisations like Kyampisi and others are now calling for tougher laws to halt the growing vice. Without the full force of the law, Pastor Sewakiryanga says, there is little that can be done to protect Uganda’s children from the belief in the power of human sacrifice.