My former husband almost cut off my nose

07:32 Dec 27 2011 Bison, Tororo Municipality, Uganda

A thick, long scar across her face, gets your attention when you meet Nusura Nyaburu in Bison slum, Tororo Municipality, Tororo district.

What’s more horrifying is that the 37-year-old was maimed by her ex-husband Issa Onyango, who hacked off her nose on September 26.

“He used a sharp carpentry carving tool to cut off my nose,” says Nyaburu almost inaudibly.

“My nose was ripped off, hanging down, on threads fresh,” recalls Nyaburu.
The hideous attack by Onyango, who is on run, comes 10 months after the couple had separated. The couple, which was married customarily, had four children.

Barely a day after returning from hospital to her mud and wattle rented room; Nyaburu is coming to terms with the curious stares she gets.

Emotions are running high as scores of people come by to express their sympathy. The women react by wincing, while others close their eyes in shock.

Nyaburu’s life hangs in the balance

Tororo district medical superintendent, Dr Andrew Opete, says: “It was a deep cut across the face, measuring about 7cm long, which warranted stitching urgently,” he says.

He adds the ridge between the eyes, connecting nose holds the nasal-lactimal gland.

“Among its functions is to provide and regulate fluid that moistens the eyes and the nose,” he says.

Among the effects of the wrecked gland, Dr Opete says, is the iris of Nyaburu’s eye has since turned red.

Dr Opete does not also rule out that Nyaburu might have sustained a fracture. “The bones near the nose are soft and a sharp object cannot penetrate the flesh haphazardly and leave them intact,” he says.

Nyaburu’s facial nerve system, which enables one to make facial expressions, might have been affected too.

The victim is likely to loose the sense of smell as her alfactory nerve was destroyed.

How the attack happened

Margaret Achieng, a neighbour of Nyaburu, says she was sweeping the courtyard when Onyango emerged from their housing block accosting Nyaburu by her hand.

During the scuffle, Onyango pulled out a carpentry carving tool that he had hidden in his overcoat and started waving it at Nyaburu.

Moments, before he hacked Nyaburu, he was overheard saying: “Pack your possessions and children now and return to my house or risk bloodshed,” Onyango threatened.

It turned bloody when Nyaburu rejected his orders.

Nyaburu equates the pain she felt after that to being stung by a dozen bees.

“In seconds I had tripped on the ground, and do not remember what followed next,” recalls Nyaburu.

Esther Nyakecho, was the first to respond to the alarm raised by Achieng. She says she had to hold Nyaburu’s severed nose and upper lip in her palms, as they rushed her to Tororo Hospital.

The severed parts were stitched back on arrival at Tororo hospital.

The hunt for Onyango

Tororo District police commander, Robert Katuramu, says they were hunting for Onyango to ensure that he is arrested and prosecuted.

Tororo Chief Magistrate, Gabriel Angualia, defined the criminal count of maim as destruction or permanent disabling of any external or internal organ or membrane sense. “The maximum sentence for the offence is not less than 10 years imprisonment,” he said.

A history of abuse

In December 2010, Onyango and Nyaburua’s 15-year-old marriage fell apart over repeated physical abuse.

There are more than 10 cases filed by Nyaburu against her husband in 2010 at the Family Child Protection Unit, at the Police station.

On all occasions Onyango would be summoned and warned against assaulting his wife. The officer in charge, Tororo Police station, Grace Mutono says the last time Onyango was set to be prosecuted over the crime, last December, the couple separated.

“We arrested him after battering her severely and we wanted to arraign him in court, but Nyaburu pleaded for his release,” explains Mutono.

Bison slum LC.1 chairperson, Francis Ochapa, remembers the couple separating on December 17, 2010.

“Onyango threw out his wife and children from their home, then got a new bride,” narrates Ochapa.

However, he adds that he doesn’t remember receiving a complaint from the couple until the fateful afternoon in September.

Nyaburu and her children moved to a mud and wattle house, where they live today.

- By Moses Nampala (WOUGNET)
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