The Criminal Division of the High Court sitting in Kampala has sentenced John Magombe, a witch doctor found in possession of three human skulls, to seven years in jail. Lady Justice Margaret Mutonyi convicted Magombe on Monday after he pled guilty to purchasing the skulls from fellow witch doctors for use in his traditional healing business.

Magombe was arrested on February 3, 2023, by a team of Crime Intelligence detectives at Katwe Police in Kazinga Masaja Kibira B village, Masajja Parish, Makindye Sabagabo. At his shrine, the police recovered human remains, including three skulls and a bottle of what appeared to be human or animal blood. Initially, Magombe denied the charges of human sacrifice but changed his plea to guilty last week.

During sentencing, Justice Mutonyi emphasized the serious nature of Magombe’s activities, noting that such business practices could lead to crimes, including murder to obtain human skulls, or disturbing graves to procure them. Although it was unclear whether the skulls were acquired through murder or grave robbing, the judge highlighted the criminality of using human remains in traditional healing practices.

Justice Mutonyi pointed out that owners of shrines using human skulls or bones are criminals and should be prosecuted under the Prevention and Prohibition of Human Sacrifice Law. She stressed that such actions manipulate clients and encourage human sacrifice, which is both barbaric and illegal. “These criminals manipulate their clients by using scary things like human skulls. The law is quite new and a response to an outcry about the barbaric and savage effects of human sacrifice. This kind of conduct should not be encouraged because it encourages human Sacrifice,” said Mutonyi.

Referencing biblical teachings, Mutonyi noted that Jesus Christ performed miracles using natural elements like sand and saliva, never resorting to human remains. She described Magombe’s actions as satanic and primitive, asserting that they have no place in a modern, Christian-value-oriented society like Uganda. 

“Since he pleaded guilty, the court is giving him a second chance where he will reflect on idol worship and the effects of such worship, reflect on his relationship with God, and come out a better Christian since he uses the names of Magombe John. John is a Christian name”, said Mutonyi. 

Given his guilty plea, the judge decided to give Magombe a second chance to reflect on his actions and his relationship with God, suggesting he come out of prison as a reformed Christian. Deducting the time already spent on remand, Magombe will serve the remaining five years, eight months, and sixteen days in Luzira prison. He retains the right to appeal the sentence within 14 days but cannot challenge his conviction, having waived his right to be presumed innocent by pleading guilty.


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