By Francis Lahai Conteh in Pujehun
A school teacher accused of raping his underage pupil made his first court appearance on Monday, 27th June to answer to a one count charge of Sexual Penetration.
Twenty-two-year-old Umaru Bah, who teaches at the Roman Catholic Primary School Ngandorhun, Malen Chiefdom in Pujehun District, appeared before Justice Alfred Tommy Ganda at the Pujehun Magistrate Court.
According to the case file, the accused on an unknown date and time allegedly penetrated his 14-year old Class 6 pupil whose identity cannot be disclosed for her protection.
Testifying in court, the Prosecution Witness 1, Musa Moriba (father of the alleged victim), said on a date unknown he was told that during a disco jam marking Eidul Fitr [the feast marking the end of Ramadan], the accuse took his daughter to his residence and sexual penetrated her.
Mr Moriba narrated that upon getting the information, he went straight to the World Vision office and reported the matter. He said the head of NGO did not treat the case with seriousness, which prompted him to take the matter to the Malen Police Station.
The accused was arrested on the 24th May, and medical paper was issued to the alleged victim.
The alleged victim, while testifying in court, said she knew the accused as her teacher and remembered that he sexually penetrated her on a date and time she couldn’t recall.
Police Officer 10952 Detective Sergeant Mbayo A.J also testified in court as Prosecution Witness 4.
The Medical Doctor who carried out tests on the alleged victim was not available in court, hence State Counsel Sheku Kamara asked for the matter to be adjourned.
The matter was adjourned to Thursday 30th June, 2022.
The case has attracted a huge public interest in Pujehun after reports emerged of an alleged attempt by the police to compromise it.
ManoReporters earlier reported that the incident was first reported last month (May), leading to the arrest of the suspect. Family members of the victim said shortly after, the police released him after his family paid them a “bribe”.
The victim’s parents and other relatives confirmed the claim of bribery to ManoReporters.
Hon. Shiaka Sama, the Member of Parliament for the area, personally took up the matter after reports of the alleged attempt to release the accused. Hon. Sama told ManoReporters that he contacted the police when he received the report. He said the Regional Police Commander ordered the rearrest of the suspect in response.
Hon. Sama said two days later, on June 6th, the father of the victim visited the police station in Pujehun only to find out that the teacher was in fact not under police custody.
The police declined to comment at the time when contacted for a response to the bribery allegation.
Pujehun District has one of the highest rates of sexual and gender based violence in Sierra Leone. And rights campaigners say compromise at the level of police investigation is one of the factors hindering efforts to contain the scourge.
The situation is also a major hindrance to girl child education in the district.