It was a February afternoon when a young lady in a devastated mood visited our office Justice Centres Bunyoro Centre and registered a case of child neglect and maintenance against her lover with whom they have been in a cohabiting relationship for close to four years. The two had been blessed with twins now aged 1 year and 4 months.
The client had before narrated her ordeal to the paralegal who met her during an outreach, who in turn invited her to visit our office for legal counsel.
On the day she came to register her complaint with JCU, she was recognized by theJCU paralegal who had met her at the outreach. When asked where her twins were she told her that she had abandoned them at her Co wife bar because the latter is the cause of her lover neglecting her and the twins since he takes all the money to her business. She added "nimbonabona inkuhingira abaana bangye inkimarakusharura aguzaburikimwe atwara esente bamalaye be" meaning "I suffer cultivating food for my children. After harvesting, he sells everything and takes the proceeds to his prostitutes”
We offered her counselling and advised her to go back, serve the mediation notices in the presence of the LCI of the area and then pick her children from where she had abandoned them. We also contacted the respondent through a phone call and requested him to allow the complainant back home until the matter is resolved.
The parties reported for the mediation on the 22nd day of February 2017. Before JCU could conduct the mediation, the respondent was called at Central Police Hoima Children & Family Protection Unity (CFPU). A letter by the Officer in Charge (OC) of CFPU informed us that the complainant had opened charges of child neglect against the respondent and the couples were to report at the CFPU the same day JCU had fixed the mediation session. Hence, JCU proposed a joint mediation session with the CFPU officers which was agreeable. The mediation was successfully conducted at the CFPU and parties reconciled.
The Respondent agreed to refund the complainant the money he had taken from her food produce to enable her buy seeds, he also agreed to buy one acre of land for the twins within a period of three years and to continue cultivating on the family land. He further agreed to provide the basic needs for their twins. In the end, the couple left happily and the respondent rode his family on his motor cycle back to their village. JCU and Officer in charge CFPU will in due course visit the parties to ascertain whether the MOU is being implemented.