Kampala, (UG): Earlier this week, Ugandans across social media were left shocked when one Kato John Ssenfuma, a 40-year-old teacher at Hillside College in Mityana was arrested on allegations of attempting to defile a 15-year-old girl, a student at the same school.
The incident which has become a public matter has sparked massive reactions, with the majority calling for harsh punishment for the teacher, and lawyers have now opened on with differing legal opinions about the incident.
For example, Emmanuel Kirya, a lawyer at KBW Advocates (formerly Kwesigabo, Bamwine Walubiri Advocates), stated that a case of attempted defilement can’t suffice because the said teacher was apprehended before he attempted to defile.
“In Uganda’s Criminal Law, an attempt happens when a person intending to commit an offence begins to put his intention into execution by means adapted to its fulfilment and manifests his intention by some overt act,” Kirya stated.
He further explained, “An attempted defilement would be if he was found pants down trying to achieve penetration. That would be the overt act.”
The lawyer said that in the case of Ssenfuma, there’s no overt act. “We only have a man who was prematurely intercepted,” he said.
He, however, said that the teacher could be charged with another offence, maybe criminal trespass since it is alleged that he entered into the girl’s home for an unlawful purpose.
“However, that charge will also face difficulties because criminal trespass only happens when entry onto someone’s property is unauthorized. In this case, it appears as if he was deliberately invited into the property,” Kirya said.
On the other side, controversial Lawyer Male Mabirizi believes that Ssenfuma has a case to answer as he attempted to achieve his ‘goal’ by travelling to the student’s guardian’s home. He states that what was said in the WhatsApp messages reveals his (Ssenfuma) intentions.
“He woke up and travelled from Mukono to Kyebando. He even bought condoms. To me, he has a case to answer though subjected to other evidence,” he says.
However, Brandon Muloki, a Managing Partner of Cranimer Chambers, disagrees with Mabirizi saying the evidence available so far cannot stand in court.
“The unused condoms (no issue). Sneaking into a student’s home (not an issue?) For sex? (no evidential value) At the time of ‘apprehension,’ even if he had the intention for sex, he hadn’t acted upon it to amount to a criminal act,” Muloki stated.
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