The Police on Thursday night raided a rental house in Mutundwe, a Kampala suburb, and rescued 10 children who had been smuggled into the country and left starving.
The children, aged three to 13 years, had been confined in two rooms and had gone on rampage, stealing food from neighbours and shops. Others were scavenging for food from dustbins to survive.
According to the deputy Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, who took part in the raid, most of the children were severely malnourished and sick.
The Police arrested their caretaker, Mary Sulvano, 23, who was also sick. She had been admitted in a clinic at the time of the raid.
She, however, abandoned her sick bed on learning that the Police had stormed their home and returned.
Sulvano, who had been on drip, looked so weak and had difficulty in talking. Police detectives supported her to sit, before abandoning their interrogation on seeing that she was not in good condition.
She later told the Police that her mother, Leticia Atanasio Fodro, had brought the children from South Sudan.
She said Fodro promised to send money for the children’s school fees and upkeep. The children stayed in a house belonging to Rose Mary Lwanga of Entebbe.
They had books and other items scattered all over their rooms and told detectives that they had stopped going to school. One of the children who spoke English said they had been studying at Uganda Martyrs’ Primary School, Mutundwe, but had not reported to school this term.
Cecilia Mugarura, an immediate neighbour, said the children made a lot of noise and cried for food after starving for some days.
She said they would come out and loiter around, stealing people’s food, from gardens and shops.
She said they also stole money until residents informed local council officials, who tipped off the Police.
“We at first sympathised with the children and gave them food, but they kept on stealing from people, while others often fed from garbage heaps,” she said.
Police confiscated temporally travel documents from the house that indicated that they entered Uganda in January and some had been given a three-month stay, which expired in April.
They included, Isabel Deng, 9, Mangrad Deng, 10, Ronaldo Mukey Osman, 13, Alisabe Deng, 9, Francis Ymanis, 9, Grace Ajang, Deng Rung, 13, Christine Agwang Det, Steven Johnase and John, 3.
Nabakooba immediately bought food and milk from a restaurant for the children who were later driven in a Police car to the Central Police Station with their caretaker.
She said they would be taken for medical checkup and treatment as they carried out further investigations.
Hajati Fatuma Namubiru, a food vendor in the area said the children would use sign language to indicate that they were hungry.
By Eddie Ssejjoba, The New Vision