American tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott who was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park three weeks ago has opened up for the first time about the gruelling incident, pronouncing rather unexpectedly that she still has confidence in the security of tourists visiting Uganda.
Mrs Endecott, in an CBS interview, said her kidnap along with her guide, Jean Paul Mirenge was an isolated incident; “an exception to the rule.”
Asked specifically by “CBS This Morning” host Gayle King whether she believed it was safe to go to Uganda, the 57-year-old replied, “I do. I do.”
She went on to express hope that that her kidnap would not hurt the image of the country of what she termed as a friendly and accommodating people.
“That was the other thing. That feeling of what this is gonna do to that country that is run by their people and those are immensely friendly, accommodating people,” she said.
Kimberly also hopes something good will come out the incident for Uganda, saying, “I hope I was in the right place at the right time.”
“Hopefully something beautiful is going to come out of this. That’s where I have to hold my hope.”
In the interview from her house in California, Mrs Kimberly despite still looking shaken and confessing to being triggered every often about the episode, she still sounded grateful to the way she was handled by her captors.
At some point, she says she felt compassion for them, the way they went out their way to protect her.
After a long walk, she says, she was so exhausted that she fell on the ground and at the time she got up, a tent had been erected for her, complete with a mosquito net.
“I remember laying down on the ground and I remember hearing JP say, ‘Oh my God,’ at my exhaustion. I don’t know how long I laid there,” Endicott said. “At one point I’m asked to get up. And I turn and look and they’ve made a tent for me out of tarps and a mosquito net, which, I remember that was the moment where I thought, ‘Why are they taking such good care of me?'”
Endicott said a “relationship” of sorts began with the young men in the camp.
“I just start talking to them like I’m talking to you,” Endicott told King. “But all the while I’m watching these young men drink water, not from the river, but from a hole in the ground. But they have bottled water for me.”
She ended up feeling compassion for the men, saying, “How could I not?”
“‘Cause that’s their life. It’s not really above living like an animal. That’s their life. If I survive this, I have a life to go back to. That’s their life,” Endicott said. “That does not condone what they did. Not even close.”
Endecott also recalls she was allowed to talk to her daughter in the US.
“They let me do that … My daughter’s besides herself,” she said. “Her mother’s been kidnapped. But I’m not beside myself. I’m saying, ‘Okay we can’t, like, we can’t do this now. Let’s get it together. But tell everybody what’s happening. Tell everyone what’s happening. Because I don’t know what’s being done.”
Even in captivity, Endicott said she was able to find humanity in the men who took her and said they were also her “protectors.”
“They could’ve sold me to a different group. When I went out in the open they had guns that also protected me. It could’ve been so much worse than it was,” she said.
Uganda Police says they have since arrested and charged one person in connection to the kidnap
The suspect, Onesmus Byaruhanga, a 43 year old resident of Kisamba Cell, Kanungu Town was charged on Arpril 18th with counts of Aggravated Robbery and two Counts of Kidnap with intent to procure a ransom, before the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kanungu District.
Police says the suspect played a supportive role, of surveilling the movement of the American Tourist, from Bwindi National Park to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, and furnished the kidnapping team to their local criminal gang, with information that facilitated the kidnapping of the two.