KAMPALA–An investigative report of Sexual Harassment at Makerere has exposed the suspect spots at the university where cases of sexual harassment have featured most with the Office of the Academic Registrar leading the unwelcome list.
This is according to a report by a five-member committee appointed to investigate sexual harassment at Makerere University following spates of scandals involving teaching staff and mainly female students.
The committee handed over its report to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, on Monday.
Led by Law don Prof. Sylvia Tamale, the committee appointed on March 2 also consisted of the School of Women and Gender Studies’ Assoc. Prof. Consolata Kabonesa, acting Principal School of Law-Assoc. Prof. Christopher Mbazira, the College of Education and External Studies’ Assoc. Prof. Betty Ezati, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Assoc. Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi.
The establishment of the committee followed numerous reports of sexual harassment at Makerere University, with some students accusing the university staff of forcing them into sexual acts in exchange for getting better marks and other services, a vice that has since been branded ‘sex for marks.’
Crime24’s Jens Mukiibi in Makerere says the report highlights specific cases of sexual harassment that pointed out nine sections of the university at which the vice featured most.
The committee admitted that the time it was given was limited that saw few respondents willing to discuss specific cases beyond those with names of perpetrators blacked-out and those that have been reported in the local media.
The ‘Tamale Report’ noted that the culture of silence contributes to the cover-ups that have made it difficult for the university to curb sexual harassment.
At the time of the investigations into the sexual harassment, the committee received a new case concerning an officer in the Academic Registrar’s department, Edward Kisuze, who allegedly abused a former female student, Rachael Njoroge.
In her statement, Njoroge said that at the time she was seeking certification of her academic documents, Kisuze accosted her.
Following her accusations, Kisuze was arrested and charged by Police before the department concluded its investigative hearing.
While appearing before the investigative Committee, Njoroge confessed of facing persecution, intimidation and torment from the public since the case was reported, with the former student breaking down and telling the committee that the experience made her feel “isolated and alone.”
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
The committee started off with the case that triggered its appointment to investigate sexual harassment at the university that followed an exposé by an NBS Television broadcast on February 26, 2018.
“Dr Swizen Kyomuhendo, a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Works and Social Administration, was accused of sexually harassing a student whose identity has never been revealed to public,” the report says.
The news clip showed Kyomuhendo with the student in his office and then later at a lodge confidentiality and although the College instituted an ad hoc committee to investigate the case, the alleged victim chose not to appear before the committee for fear of reprisals and being labelled by the community and investigations into the case are still ongoing.
The committee report also captures the issues at Mitchell Hall of residence where a case of rape was reported in April 2017.
“A female student of Music and Film visited a friend, Jeremiah Mukyemu, a fourth year medical student resident in Mitchell Hall and had to be hospitalised at Mulago with multiple fractures after jumping through a window of the third-floor room to flee sexual assault,” the report said, noting painfully that Mukyemu had allegedly attempted to rape another female student in 2015 but the case was resolved out of court.
“The respondents noted that Mukyemu was arrested by the Police on charges of with attempting to rape, but it is not clear whether the case ever went to trial,” the report adds.
The College of Health Sciences was also faulted for not following up the case under the university’s Policy and Regulations Against Sexual Harassment.
‘If I report him to administration, who would the University afford to lose…, me or the guy with ground-breaking research?’ a victim of sexual harassment said of a serial abuser who is famed for groundbreaking medical research
‘Overlooked sexual predator’
The committee also received information about another case of alleged harassment that was reported at the College of Business in July 2017 concerning Brian Musaga, a lecturer in the School of Statistics and Planning.
“Musaga was in charge of examinations in the school, a position that brought him into regular contact with students who had examination-related problems,” the report says.
However, some female students reported that everyone warned them to steer clear of Musaga as he was a known sexual ‘predator.’
Most of his colleagues allegedly knew about his abusive behaviour but “did not want to get involved,” an omission that seemed to give Musaga carte blanche to harass students, the Tamale Report says.
Six female students from the school accused Musaga of sexually harassing and assaulting them leading to his suspension.
The six students testified to a special committee instituted by the then Vice-Chancellor, Prof. John Ddumba, that the accused lecturer allegedly abused his victims in his office after working hours, yet to date, the committee’s report on Musaga’s case is not yet published.
At the College of Health Sciences in April 2017, two female students of medicine and surgery approached the Mentorship Committee chair complaining of being sexually harassed by some lecturers.
The lodged complaints encouraged others as more students came out of their silent suffering, revealing a pattern of serial abuse. One of the doctors is a well-respected senior researcher who attracts a lot of funding to the college.
“Under the influence of alcohol, he would lock female students in his office, gropes them and makes sexually-suggestive comments to them,” the report says. “The students claimed that he follows some of them to their halls of residence.”
“One of them remarked, ‘If I report him to administration, who would the University afford to lose…, me or the guy with ground-breaking research?’ This committee was informed that a tabloid newspaper had carried a report alleging that the same doctor had inappropriately abused a patient,”
Matters were made worse for the committee after no staff member at the College was willing to testify against the doctor. The case remains unresolved.
Meanwhile, while a first year student of Botany and Zoology at the College of Natural Sciences, who reported a rape case to Wandegeya Police Station in March 2016, has not found justice, somewhere in Makerere still, at least another student got her way through.
The student had accused her lecturer and benefactor, Chris Bakuneta, of sexually assaulting her in the garage-turned-bedroom that he had availed her near his residence in Quarry Flats but with her college not taking serious interest in the matter, Bakuneta continues teaching without even a reprimand.
However, it was not the case for a third year Law student who lodged a formal complaint to the Anti-Sexual Harassment Committee of the School of Law against a fellow student called Franco Tumuhimbise in November 2013.
She alleged that while in a lecture, Tumuhimbise sent her a note saying, “If you don’t remove that whorish mosquito net in 20 minutes, I promise to undress you,” a reference to her skirt-shorts culottes.
Tayahwe reported that after the lecture, Tumuhimbise pounced on her, attempted to undress her and tore her dress in order to humiliate her.
At the hearing before the school committee, Tumuhimbise admitted to the offence and apologised to Tayahwe.