By Alfred Tumushabe
A woman in Mbarara is nursing wounds after suffering an attack with fire. The victim points fingers at her husband’s lover whom she accuses of sending her threatening messages in the past, writes Alfred Tumushabe.
Frank Asiimwe, a boda boda cyclist at Mbarara Central Market stage, along Buremba Road is a troubled man. He suspects his lover Jesca Natukunda to be behind the plot to burn his official wife, Idith Kyogabirwe, now nursing wounds at Mbarara Referral Hospital.
Ms Kyogabirwe was on May 18, torched with petrol. The attack left the upper part of her body with burns. She lay gasping on the bed in the emergency ward and struggled to speak or sit by herself. “There is another woman I am in love with who I think has done this. She has been threatening to harm her,” Asiimwe said of his lover as he attended to the patient.
Ms Natukunda, the accused and now under police custody, is in her 40s. She runs a restaurant at Tataitwe in Kakoba Division. According to Kyogabirwe, Natukunda had demanded that she withdraws her claim as the official wife.
Asiimwe, 37 and Kyogabirwe, 32, were customarily married in 1996. They met in Mbarara town, and there after went to live together in Bujaga Rwampara six years. On returning to Mbarara town, Asiimwe started riding a boda boda to make ends meet while his wife started selling clothes.
The fateful day
It was around 10.30p.m., on a Sunday when Kyogabirwe (commonly known as Maama Konnie) met her fate at her home in Upper Cell Nyamityobora, Kakoba.
“I went out to the toilet. After easing myself, I pushed the door to get out but I felt some resistance.
“Someone was pushing it from outside. So, I shouted and the person on the other side withdrew. However, as I emerged from the toilet, cold liquid was poured on me and thereafter fire was lit on me and the person took off,” Kyogabirwe narrated.
She called for help, and her husband rushed out of their house. He was shocked to find her in flames. She was crying as her clothes and body were on fire. With the assistance of neighbour, they put out the fire and the victim was rushed to the hospital. The mother of two boys aged 12 and five years says, her husband begun seeing Natukunda early in 2009 and he would spend nights away from his official home.
The conflict deepens
“When he began staying at her place, she began threatening me saying I have to stop claiming him. I reported the matter to the police and she was summoned,” Kyogabirwe said, however, “She never stopped threatening me despite the police warning. She has been calling me over the phone saying she will kill me if I don’t leave the man,” Kyogabirwe narrated.
“In February this year, people started coming to my house whenever they knew he (Asiimwe) was not in, saying I should leave the man or else I will die.” In March, she asked her in-laws to talk to their son Asiimwe, Ms Kyogabirwe adds. “I went there and explained the situation. They counselled him but he never stopped and he did not bother to stop his woman from threatening me.”
Two days before that fateful night, Kyogabirwe went and reported to chairman LCI Kisenyi Cell, Sylivesto Ssemwogere who had fixed hearing of their matter on Monday May 19.
For her children
Like many women suffering in their mrriages, Kyogabirwe says she bore all the insults for the sake of her two children. “I feared my children would suffer if left this marriage. I persisted because I wanted to see them grow up seeing both their parents together,” she said sobbing.
Ms Justin Ngariki, a close friend to Kyogabire said, she knew about the threats.
“She always told me about these threats from that woman. If she had any conflict with anyone else, I would know but that’s the only one,” Ms Ngariki said. The Upper Cell LCI chairperson Ms Nuliat Katerega said Kyogabirwe “has been here for over six years. We have never recorded any cases against her. We don’t know why she was attacked.”
Asiimwe who looks confused with the way matters have unfolded said, “I’m at loss of words. I don’t know what to do about it. It is too expensive for me because I am spending close to Shs40,000 daily on medication and upkeep, but I will be besides her. I introduced her. She is my wife and I’m her husband,” he said. Asiimwe added that Natukunda is “just his lover” and did not know it would get this far.
“She (Kyogabirwe) would tell me. But whenever I was with Jesca in bed, I would ask her about the threats and she denied any wrong doing. I had nothing to do. But last year Kyogabirwe showed me threatening SMS messages from Jesca. She was summoned to police and cautioned.”
On Friday May 17, Natukunda along with another friend of hers exchanged verbal attacks with Kyogabirwe as she went to report to Kisenyi LCI office. “I was told that Jesca told Kyogabirwe that she (Jesca) is Mazzi Mawanvu-that she will show her strength,” Asiimwe says.
Natukunda who is still detained at police measures her words. “This is a tragedy that has befallen me. I am not the one who burnt her,” she said before going silent. South West Police PRO Polly Namaye said the “incident is one in a very long time in the region.”