A Ugandan imam was suspended from his work as a cleric this week because he was unknowingly married to a man for two weeks.
Sheikh Mohammed Mutumba, the imam of Kayunga District's Kyampisi Masjid Noor mosque, thought he was marrying a woman named Swabullah Nabukeera when he wed in a traditional Islamic ceremony last month. Mutumba said he hadn't been intimate with his supposed wife in the period they were married because she claimed she was menstruating.
However, the truth unraveled after Nabukeera was arrested over the theft of a television set and clothes from Mutumba's next door neighbors. A female police officer did a body check on the suspect, thinking she was a woman, only to discover the "newlywed bride" was, in fact, a man.
When police told the cleric what they had discovered, he was left in absolute shock. He then confronted the suspect, accusing him of being a thief.
During interrogations, the defendant told police his real name is Richard Tumushabe. He admitted he married Mutumba in a bid to steal the cleric's money.
One of the region's top Muslim officials, Sheikh Abdul Noor Kakande, said the 27-year-old sheikh was put under investigation over the "unfortunate" incident.
Mosque officials felt that they had to detach from the imam following the shocking discovery, even though they confirmed he had entered the marriage thinking Nabukeera was a woman.
The head imam of Kyampisi Masjid Noor mosque, Sheikh Isa Busuulwa, stated that the cleric's suspension "was intended to preserve the integrity of their faith." Busuulwa said Mutumba had worked at the mosque for four years and was one of its three imams.
The head cleric added that though he had attended Mutumba's marriage reception, the mosque had not been involved in the wedding celebrations.
The case is turning heads everywhere
Some of Mutumba's colleagues, including a man named Amisi Kibunga, revealed that they had seen the cleric's "wife" on several occasions without suspecting anything wrong.
"He had a sweet soft voice and walked like a woman," Kibunga explained, adding that Nabukeera was wearing a hijab in the two times he spotted her at Friday prayers.
The man also revealed that the suspended cleric came to him four days after his wedding to complain about his bride refusing "to undress while they slept."
Kibunga was planning to go council the newlywed couple when he heard of Nabukeera's arrest. News reporters tried to visit Mutumba at his home but neighbors said he had not been seen for days and was staying with relatives while receiving counseling, according to The Daily Monitor.