NTENJERU PRISON, KAYUNGA
August 15th 2019 was an awesome and humbling birthday spent with the inmates of Ntenjeru Prison in Kayunga District. This was a follow up of a visit we had made on the 27t of July 2019 as part of our Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF) Monthly Fellowship. During that first visit, our own John Osapiri ministered the love of Christ to the inmates and 18 of them gave their lives to Christ. Elijah Iradukunda advised on the criminal justice system and how it works. We also fielded questions concerning the do's and don'ts by the police, the courts, the accused and the prosecutors. Many of the inmates had questions and complaints about the way the criminal justice system works - from cancellation of bond, denial of bail, prolonged processes, improper searches and retaining of property upon arrest, misjoinder of accused persons, stalled plea bargaining sessions and the lack of a Chief Magistrate etc. The inmates also had issues with congestion (they were 123 in a poorly ventilated facility that should hold only 20 prisoners). We noted that the majority of the inmates (94 in number) were remand case with one having been on remand for over 1140 days!
After the initial visit, together with the Board of Directors of UCLF, we tabled the aforementioned concern before the Chief Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions. We are also planning to have more lobbying meetings with other key actors in the Justice Law and Order sector.
Concurrently, I also mobilized for help to assist in addressing some of the critical needs of the inmates at Ntenjeru. On Thursday the 15th of August, together with friends and family, we chose to celebrate my birthday in Kayunga. We took four bales of new blankets (120 in number, for the 120 inmates), pre-loved blankets, pre-loved duvets, pre-loved shoes, pre-loved baby clothes for expectant inmates etc. We also had a mattress for the expectant mom plus soft drinks (soda) for everyone. Other donations included 50kgs of rice plus meat so that they could have a special meal for a change. We also shared the birthday cake with the inmates and their wardens. My very good friend and mentor, Michael Kiiza shared words of hope with them and two inmates gave their lives to Christ..
It is on this background that I would like to give special thanks to all the love filled donations received (in cash and in kind) from the Rotary family, from friends far and near, from students - former and current and from family.
Special gratitude to my mom, Kaaka Amooti, who paid for birthday cake and a huge merci beaucoup to the Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity Secretariat led by Vincent Mutonerwa who opened the doors to the prison, gave much needed legal advice and counselling. I also must mention the entertainment by Duncan Genesis Kijjambu which gave the inmates the much needed laughter. The smiles on the faces of the inmates, the passion in their singing, the tempo and rhythm of their clapping, their songs and their prayers were such a powerful reminder that the Lord loves us all regardless of our situation and that we can all be positively impacted and impact someone else.
Whereas that was an awesome time, there is still work to be done. We need to get the inmates 3 inch mattresses and sandals. We also need to have a comprehensive and sustainable pro bono legal aid project for all the inmates. Your help and support is therefore much needed.
Please continue to pray for the inmates and in case you have any donations, kindly contact me know.
Lots of Blessings
By Daniel R. Ruhweza