Berry, as commonly known by residents at Mwena village about four kilometres from Lutogoka landing site in Kalangala district, is a Belgian who keeps children aged between 5-15 years of age at his home located in the same area.
Fenced with a wall and painted white, Berry’s home is situated about twenty kilometres from the lake and can be easily reached using a boat due to its strategic location on the lake shores.
Our Corp was able to find out that Berry lives in the company of his gateman who takes charge of the girls once the former is away.
It was also established by our Corp through locals at Mwena Fishing Centre which is located 400 metres away from the home, which no other person is allowed to reach or talk to the girls who are often kept inside the fence.
The investigation also found out that Kalangala district officials once raided Berry’s home and sent back all the children to their parents but were, however, allowed to go back to the Belgian’s home.
Berry also known as ‘Muzungu’ by the locals has a red Toyota vehicle where he often drives some of the girls to the nearby town.
Efforts to talk to the girls who currently live at Berry’s home were, however, futile due to the nature of the fenced home and presence of a watchman who seemed to be keeping watch of the behind gate whenever Berry was resting at the front that is facing the lake.
So, with this arrangement and total seclusion of his facility, Berry does whatever he wants with the girls and whenever he wants without any inhibitions since no one is in ear-reach.
During the trip, our Corp spotted Berry in a white T-shirt and blue tracksuit before the later was joined by a boda boda cyclist identified as the district Police Probation Officer and Social Welfare Officer who stayed around the home until our Corp left the house at around 6:30pm.
Girls speak out
As expected in such circumstances where highly investigative skills are involved, our Corp beat the odds and spoke to some of the girls and locals about the home.
An 18 year-old female only identified as Joan and a resident at Butumiro Island revealed that she once lived at Berry’s home.
“Due to illness, Berry gave my father Shs 200,000 which was used to treat me. He is a good Samaritan who helps poor children,” stated Joan.
She, however, denied any case of sexual abuse for her case but could not rule out the allegations noting that Berry has girls she is very close to adding that he “likes them so much and he stays with them most of the time”.
She clarified that Berry is ever in the company of his “favourite girls” in isolated spots of the house where the other kids are not allowed to play from.
“District officials once raided the home on suspicion of possibility of abuse and girls were given back to their parents including my two sisters but after a while, Berry once again sourced for other female children whom he is living with up to date,” she explained.
Everyone wonders why Berry specifically insists on having girl children at his facility!
Another male resident suspected that the Belgian could be sexually using the children but, however, said “it’s not possible to establish” adding that Berry is friends with most of the police officers in the area including the Probation Officer.
A salon owner at Mwena who preferred anonymity noted that “Berry could be using the girls as prostitutes to the visiting tourists who commonly come to the island”.
“Berry is a single man and temptations can befall him like any other normal human being,” pointed out the resident.
Many questions remain unanswered to the locals as regards the criteria of choosing the girls, why neighbours are not allowed to reach the home, why children are always kept in indoors and the safety of these girls in the hands of two men.
Why after about many years, has Berry failed to hire services of a female custodian for the children?
Berry was arrested at the start of December 2013 (photo by New Vision)
Berry, the head of Ssese Humanitarian Services (SHS), was arrested by detectives from the Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) headquarters for allegedly defiling 34 girls at the start of December this year.
His tale has many twists and police are still investigating the matter trying to reach at the root of the said crime.