One of the three female ex-soldiers labeled as “chronically ill and mentally imbalanced” by the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Kadiatu Kabia, has accused the military of abandoning them at the time they laid their lives in defending the country.
Testifying before the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone Tribunal at the YWCA New Hall, Kadiatu Kabia a.k.a ‘Kadie Soja’ told the tribunal that she left the army because of illness, but that at the time she was using 1817 as her service number.
She added that she was in an escort vehicle along the Lunsar highway when they fell in an ambush and subsequently sustained bomb fragment wounds on her head which later affected her eyesight.
Continuing her testimony, she revealed that “we were abandoned after that target. I got a radio message to report after which I was given a new military service number that will qualify me for a benefit according to what some senior officers like Kestora Kabia, Col. T etc. then told us. They even consoled us”.
Explaining further, she told the tribunal that when she received the fragment wounds, she was admitted at the 34 Military Hospital for six months and when discharged, she was redeployed to the 1st Battalion in Kailahun under Col. Allison. “My Commander ordered that because of the problem I had due to the bomb fragment wounds, I should report at the Clerk’s office where I was informed that I was part of those suffering from long-term illness and should report before the Medical Board at 34 Military Hospital”
She said she faced the Board on July 18 and when asked by a white Doctor whether she would be able to continue in the army, she replied that “Please sir, I love the job because I love my country and I don’t want to leave this job” To further compound her ordeal, she testified that she was denied food ration at her deployment area and when she complained, Col. Keita who was in charge remarked that he had to cater elsewhere for her to have a ration.
Not happy with that, she said she went to President Koroma at State Lodge to complain about her situation.
Kadiatu is among 235 ex-soldiers referred to as chronically ill and mentally imbalanced by the Ministry of Defence and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces whose cases are being heard by the Human Rights Commission’s Public Hearing.
The hearing continues today, Thursday, at the Commission’s Conference Room.