Mukono, 29th/May/2012; The Pastor of Mt. Lebanon Church in Mukono, Samuel Lwandasa has apologized to the journalists and committed to buy new cameras to replace those damaged during an attack on Mukono journalists. This was during a meeting between the journalists and the church.
The meeting at Shame Gardens in Mukono was attended by Mt. Lebanon team led by Pastor Lwandasa. It included Pastor Kenneth Mutenza and Shem Ssemanda, while the victim journalists were led by Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) team led by Robert Ssempala and lawyer Catherine Anite. It was also attended by other Mukono-based journalists and the police.
A group of youths led by one Shem Ssemanda emerged from Mt. Lebanon Church in Kikooza, Mukono district and beat up four Mukono-based journalists on Sunday 20th and confiscated their tools of work including a video camera. The victims are Kalumba Ronald of WBS television, Paddy Nsobya of Bukedde Newspaper (Vision Group of Companies), Makumbi Joseph of the Red Pepper and Bbuule Moses Kizito of Bukedde radio. They were following up on a news story rotating around the church.
Ssemanda admitted to attacking the journalists and apologized to them. “From the deepest part of my heart, am down on my knees begging my brothers Kalumba and Nsobya to forgive me for the attack which I was part of. Am sorry, I apologize and promise never to do it again.” Ssemanda told a meeting that lasted for over five hours.
Pastor Lwandasa apologized on behalf of the church, explaining that his church had no ill-intentions against journalists I it’s over 20 years of existence.
“I don’t know who participated or who never participated in the beating of the journalists, but all I know is that they were victims to an attack on the said day by some persons from my church. I was away preaching in the church. But I want to apologize on behalf of the church and hereby commit that my church would compensate the journalists for costs and replace their damaged cameras within a period not exceeding one month. I hereby plead for forgiveness on behalf of Shem (Ssemanda) and any other member of my church. We take the blame and we are very sorry about what happened.” confessed Pastor Lwandasa.
The journalists offered to forgive their attackers if they fulfilled the set conditions in the given period.
This comes at a time when the police were fast tracking the prosecution of the suspects. Pastor Lwandasa and Ssemanda were summoned and questioned by Mukono police for assault and malicious damage to property. The other suspects were are still at large.
“HRNJ-Uganda is concerned by the attacks and wants to ensure that justice is delivered to the victims in an expeditious way. It is also imperative to promote peace and reconciliation between the media and the community where they operate. However, the case file should be processed for purposes of criminal prosecution if the suspects backtrack on the agreed upon terms. The attacks are an abuse of the media freedoms and rights which should not be condoned” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.


Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.