Kiira Region Police are holding 24-year-old James Muwanguzi, the resident pastor of Life in God international ministries church in Jinja City Northern division for masterminding the trafficking and defilement of girls from different districts in Eastern Uganda.
He was arrested on Wednesday morning when officers from Budondo police station stormed his church in Budondo Ward.
The girls, the majority of whom fled when police sealed off the church, were sourced from Budaka, Namisindwa, Bududa, Jinja and Iganga districts. Muwanguzi reportedly rented a room in the area where he set up a church and office space.
His neighbours who tipped off the police claim that Muwanguzi would lock up the girls and only open for them on Sundays.
The five girls rescued from the church premises accused Muwanguzi of repeatedly defiling and locking them up with the aim of blocking them from reporting his evil acts.
A 10-year-old girl from Budaka district, whose name has been withheld, says that Muwanguzi promised to pay for her education.
“Muwanguzi took me from my parents in early February 2022 and promised to foot my school dues, only to lock us up in the church since then to date,” she said.
Sanon Kabaale, a single father from Budondo ward says that he left his two daughters under the care of their grandmother after being hired as a casual labourer in the Mubende district. He, however, says that Muwanguzi lured the minors into dropping out of school to join his church.
Kabaale says that they mounted a search for his daughters for the past three weeks, within the neighbouring communities, only to receive information on how Muwanguzi had encouraged them to serve in his newly established church.
Kiira region police spokesperson, James Mubi says that pastor Muwanguzi faces charges of aggravated defilement and trafficking in children.
He has cautioned parents against giving away their children to self-proclaimed childcare givers, without conducting thorough background checks.