Breaking News Human rights

Hospital Director Gets 18-year Sentence For Rape

A signboard of the Buea High Court and Court of First Instance

By Hope Nda & Chung Wendy Bright

Dr Kingsley Eban Barueta, the Director of the Muyuka District Hospital in Southwest Region, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for raping a girl in his office.

The ruling brought to an end the case that has dragged on for over a year now.

Dr Eban was convicted by the Fako High Court holding at Buea on October 4, in a judgment that found him guilty of raping his intern in his office in Muyuka on May 21, 2021. The verdict was delivered by Justice Anne Afong.

He was convicted on two counts: firstly, for rape backed by Sections 298(a) & (b) and 131 of the Cameroon Penal Code; and secondly for indecency to a minor punishable by Section 347(1) of the same Code.

Before being slammed the 18-year jail term, Dr Eban had spent seven months in pre-trial detention at the Buea Central Prison, but now, he will become a permanent occupant of the facility.

During the time of trial, he was being defended by a team led by Buea-based lawyers, Senior Barrister Etta Bissong and Barrister Emmanuel Nkea.

In his final plea before the court, Lead Defence Counsel, Barrister Etta Bissong, who has practised the law profession for about 44 years now, asked the court to be considerate in its judgment, considering that his client had already spent seven months in pre-trial detention.

He argued that this amount of time was enough time for the doctor to repent of his crime.

He also appealed to the court that his client, had never committed any of such offence during his 22 years of practice as a medic.

He further told the court his client fathered six children and was also responsible for the welfare, education and maintenance of 20 internally displaced children who looked up to him for livelihood.

Despite the conscientious plea, the court concluded that the doctor was supposed to have protected the victim, the 19-year-old girl he raped, from abuse, instead of being the offender himself.

He was sentenced to 18 years in prison and the counsel for the defence was granted 10 days as from that day to appeal the verdict, if they deemed it necessary.

Victim Was Raped Inside Doctor’s Office

The victim is said to have been 19 years old at the time she was raped, although her exact age could not be ascertained by the court due to inconsistent information concerning her birth date.

Narrating how she was raped, she told the court she was on a paid volunteerism at the Muyuka District Hospital, when the doctor called her into his office in on May 21, 2021, supposedly to teach her about abdominal parts of the body.

She said he fingered her vagina in the course of that, and forcefully had sexual intercourse with her. The doctor then gave her a toilet tissue to clean herself during which the tissue was stained with blood.

The girl claimed she had been a virgin, which was evident in the blood-stained tissue found in the doctor’s office trash basket afterwards.

Although witness testimonies confirmed the blood-stained tissue, the court did not, however, base its ruling on the claims of virginity, as they remained difficult to prove.

In court, the accused denied all charges of rape. He agreed he had invited the victim to his office to teach her about the abdomen, admitted that a blood-stained tissue was found in his office, but refused to acknowledge where it came from.

Prosecution Team Satisfied With Court Verdict

Given that the case was a criminal matter, the prosecution was led by the State, through the Legal Department.

The prosecution team included Magistrates Emmanuel Kilo Ngwa and Kenneth Nzuobong-Tane Ekane. They felt satisfied with the verdict, stating that the case was not an easy one to follow through.

Also, the victim’s father hailed the court for rendering justice to his daughter. Ernest Formunjong Fon had testified in court as a witness to his daughter’s case during one of the early hearings on February 1.

“I really feel satisfied with the judgment today, because, the judge passed the right judgment. This is what I can describe as justice,” he said after judgment was delivered.

“When this incident happened I was devastated, not only my daughter, but the entire family. I was worried about my daughter’s health because I was thinking maybe she had an infection. But thank God everything was good after she was examined at the hospital.”

The case had been brought to court thanks to a human rights and gender activist, Sally Georgette Ndape, who followed up with the victim’s family when she learned of the incident.

Sally told The Post she has been tracking the case since she was informed about it and said she is satisfied now that justice has been delivered.

She was one of the prosecution witnesses who attested to the rape incident during one of the court hearings in February.

The judgment, she said, renews hope in her drive to stem gender-based violence in Cameroon and assures her the court is there to help victims get justice.

“I’m satisfied with the judgment,” she said, “and it gives us a go-ahead to say what we have been fighting in the community against violence and child abuse, it has now come to us that we are not working alone – the government is backing us up,” she said.

“It is still a call for any case of gender-based violence that is ongoing in the community to reduce and should be reported immediately, because you, the complainer, we bet you, you will not cry anymore but justice will be served according to your case.”

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