Kampala, 14th/April/2014; police in Kitebi, Rubaga division, Kampala district have arrested three suspects in connection with assaulting a Vision Group journalist, Ddamba Ismael occasioning him grievous bodily harm. The particulars of the trio have not yet been released.
Ddamba, a journalist with the Vision Group’s Bukedde Newspaper was attacked by a mob of angry commercial motorcycle (boda boda) cyclists on 12th/April/2014 while he covered them demanding for the release of their colleague who had been detained by the cyclists’ leaders for allegedly failing to pay operational fees at Kabowa in Kampala. The angry cyclists intended to lynch the journalist whom they accused of being a police spy, but police fired bullets in the air to rescue him
“It started by a man questioning why I was photographing them. They mobbed me up and started beating me. I got serious injuries on the head, arm and leg. I lost a finger nail on my thumb. I was rescued by the police who fired in the air. My still camera was all shattered. I was rushed to Mulago clinic in Kabowa for treatment. I was stitched on the head. In the process I lost my wallet.” Ddamba told HRNJ-Uganda.
A journalist who witnessed this incident at Kibade boda-boda stage at Kabowa described it as very ugly, “It was a very ugly incident. His camera was completely destroyed. They were going to kill him if it hadn’t been for the police to fire in the air.” Vivian Nakitende told HRNJ-Uganda.
“We have arrested three people in connection to the incident and have charged them with assault. We want to take them to court. Isma had come to cover news, that’s why he was assaulted, occasioning him grievous bodily harm.” the Officer in Charge of Kabowa Police Station, Hamid Kabojja told HRNJ-Uganda.
Ddamba is the fourth journalist to be mobbed up while on duty in a space of two weeks. Abdul Kittata, a boda boda cyclist leader with the Boda Boda 2010 Association Uganda warned cyclists against resorting to violence to settle their scores.
HRNJ-Uganda commends the area police for acting swiftly to save the life of the journalist and consequently arresting some of the suspects. The suspects should also be charged with malicious damage to property. We hope that the culprits who are still at large are apprehended and prosecuted. We urge the police to ensure the safety of journalists especially those covering chaotic scenes.