For 14 years, while her husband was incarcerated, Annet Twinomugisha experienced discrimination in her community, mistreatment from her family and was even poisoned while at work. Here, she tells her story.
“I married my husband Pascal at the age of 18 and we had three children in a short time. Though my husband’s salary wasn’t enough,” Annet explains. “We were forced to relocate because our situation at home wasn’t good. We worked hard and bought a small piece of land in Kiboga, where we settled.
“The people in that community weren’t welcoming. I used to remain at home alone as my husband was a way in Kasese where he worked as a policeman."
To supplement Pascal’s salary, Annet started working in subsistence farming. “I had to make sure I planted crops in the little piece of land we had. I was also hired to farm in other people’s gardens for money.”
Less than a year after moving to their new home, Annet heard news of her husband’s arrest.
“It was late in the evening when I received a phone call telling me the devastating news of my husband’s arrest. I was heartbroken,” Annet, who is now36, recalls.
Terrifyingly, just days after her husband was taken to prison, Annet was attacked by robbers at their new home.
“One night robbers attacked me inside our house. They attempted to sexually abuse me but I defended myself well using my husband’s baton, I hit one on the head and they all ran away,” she remembers.
“The entire community mistreated me and my children. I was branded with names, and a curse in the community. All because of my husband’s crime.”
Despite this, Annet remained focussed on looking after her family; her three children with Pascal, and another child from Pascal’s previous relationship.
“My husband committed a crime, so he had to pay for it. Though it put me in a difficult situation.”
“I realised my husband needed counselling and encouragement while in prison. He had lost hope and confidence. Our children needed me too. I was their focal point, navigating through things as a single mother of four children.”
When her children started studying, she realised farming wouldn’t cover their school fees. She thought of another way of supporting the family.
“I knew farming wouldn’t help much, so I moved to Kampala to work as a house girl, leaving behind my three children with our relative and one with a friend but I kept on sending them support.”
Though relatives took care of the children, Annet said the children were mistreated. “My children were tortured and beaten using electric wires by the relatives.”
After a while, things started to look up. She got a job at a supermarket and was promoted to purchasing officer which provided a regular wage. But things didn’t improve for long. Annet explains: “My fellow work mates accused me of taking courtesies from our boss.
“This led to my poisoning at work.”
“I developed a big stomach like a pregnant woman, with pain increasing every day. I visited a hospital where I was told I needed surgery, but it cost a huge amount of money, an amount I’ve never had in my life.”
While in hospital, but without any treatment, Annet's health deteriorated. After a few days, a doctor working there became concerned and took Annet to his private clinic and provided the operation she desperately needed for free. After two months in recovery at the clinic, Annet was discharged.
“Justice Defenders helped my husband access justice.”
“They gave him an opportunity to study a degree in law with the University of London [while in prison] and heis now working for them,” Annet explains. “This transformed him into a better person.”
In 2019, after 14 years and three months in prison, Justice Defenders successfully enabled Pascal Kakuru’s to regain his freedom and reunite with his family.
“When I heard of the news about the release of my husband, joy and happiness overwhelmed me. It was long overdue.”
“Justice Defenders helped my husband access justice,” Annet says. “They gave him an opportunity to study a degree in law at the University of London and he is now working for Justice Defenders. This transformed him into a better person.”
The family now plan to support education of their children, buy land to construct a permanent home and settle down.
Annet encourages women to be confident and never to give up. “For those women whose husbands are in prison, I advise them to realise that their husbands will come back home but they need your support and determination.”
Find out more about Pascal's story.