Africa

Uganda maid admits torturing toddler after secret filming

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Media captionJolly Tumuhiirwe asked the court for forgiveness, as the BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga reports

A maid in Uganda who was secretly filmed beating and kicking a toddler has pleaded guilty to torture.

Jolly Tumuhiirwe, 22, was charged in court with the torture of a girl of 18 months. A video of the assault caused outrage when it was posted online.

The child's father, Eric Kamanzi, had installed a camera in his home after noticing his daughter was bruised and limping.

Ms Tumuhiirwe asked the court, the parents and Ugandans to forgive her.

The graphic footage, which is taken from a camera hidden in the corner of the living room, shows Ms Tumuhiirwe hitting the child when she resists feeding and then throwing her to the floor, beating her with a torch before stepping on her and kicking her.

No lawyer

The footage of the abuse, which was not shown in court on Monday, has been seen or shared thousands of times on social media.

Image copyright Ruth Alexander-NBH
Image caption The child's father, Eric Kamanzi , had installed a secret camera in the living room to capture the abuse
Image caption Mr Kamanzi was in court and later became emotional when Ms Tumuhirwe said she was sorry

After capturing the violence on film, the girl's father reported the incident to police on 13 November.

Ms Tumuhiirwe, who was not represented by a lawyer in court, now faces up to 15 years in prison for the crime or a fine of about $400 (£260) or both.

One of Uganda's leading advocates offered to represent her but the magistrate denied his request saying he had not formally notified the court.

The BBC's Patience Atuhaire in the capital, Kampala, says the toddler's father broke down in court when the maid said she was sorry.

The magistrate granted the state attorney's request for an adjournment of two days so that she could gather more facts on the case.

After the public outrage that followed the video, police had issued a statement saying the charge of torture would be amended to attempted murder.

But the directorate of public prosecutions was quoted in local media on Monday as saying that investigations were still on-going and the charge remained torture under the Anti-Torture Act.

Our reporter says the courtroom was packed and people were running and craning their necks to have a good look at Ms Tumuhiirwe as she was led away by prison officers after the session.

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