HHF-Africa Journal Part 3
Meet Richard Jumba
by Christopher Buck
Meet Richard Jumba. Prior to April 2009, Richard Jumba was a fisherman on Lake Victoria. He was a successful man, with his own boat and equipment. He was able to provide well for his wife, Prossy Nalwoga, and their two small children: Brian Segawa, a boy of 5 who is disabled, and Mellisa Nassali, a girl of 2.
But then Richard Jumba was accused of a crime he did not commit.
Richard’s half-brother committed the crime of selling property that he did not own, but had disappeared before he could be caught. The people bringing the charge thought that if Richard was suffering, the brother would come back. They told the local Magistrate that Richard committed the crimes of his brother and asked the Magistrate to hold Richard Jumba on remand for 1 ½ weeks so that they could bring forth the evidence and witnesses. Richard was sent to Kasangati Prison.
11 months later, there was no sign of the accusers, no sign of the evidence, no sign of the brother, and Richard Jumba had slipped through the cracks of the Ugandan legal system and was still remanded in prison. Without powerful friends or the money to bring the case to trial, he had lost hope that his case would ever be heard. Richard has a heart condition and had resigned himself to dying in prison as he had seen others die.
“I used to admire the dogs walking past the prison because they had freedom”.
~ Richard Jumba
Today, Richard Jumba has a new life.
On 28 February 2010, Humanity Healing Foundation President Christopher Buck, HHF-Africa Director of Africa Operations David Lubaale and HHF-Africa Board member Tony Waiswa toured the Kasangati Prison to meet with the officials about the Prison Initiatives being developed for Uganda, speak with the inmates, and distribute soap and bread as a gesture of goodwill – a luxury not provided. In particular, they discussed the situation of individuals being held in prison on remand while evidence and/or charges were being prepared with Richard Jumba as an example.
As a result of the Humanity Healing Foundation’s visit, the local magistrate reopened and reviewed the case and determined that Richard’s civil rights were being violated. The charges were dismissed for lack of evidence and Richard Jumba became a free man.
Humanity Healing Foundation is developing a series of initiatives to address Human Rights issues in sub-Saharan Africa, including issues relating to prisons. HHF-Africa is building a working partnership with The Public Defender Association of Uganda to identify abuses of the system of remanding, the detention of suspects before trial and sentencing. The goal is to change both public acceptance of the system and the legal procedures involved: to place the burden of proof on the accuser to prove someone guilty instead of on the accused to having to prove one’s innocence. This is the first step on the road to social justice.
What does the future hold for Richard Jumba? In the near term, just enjoying his wife and children, and the feeling of not being surrounded by walls. His accusers have gone into hiding because now that his case is dismissed, Richard Jumba can pursue a case of wrongful imprisonment against them. Farther out will come the difficult task of rebuilding a life shattered by a cultural attitude that accepts the taking advantage of the legal system’s policy of remanding for personal gain. For HHF-Africa, Richard Jumba is a symbol of Hope for all those unjustly accused and lost in the legal system: that they are not forgotten and that there are people who care.