Kampala, 06th/June/2012; the police have arrested and assaulted a New Vision Group journalist Sula Matovu and detained him for overran hour at Nakasero police post in Kampala.
Matovu who works for Bukedde Television was covering a news story at Nakasero market related to the death of a vendor John Sseruyinda, alias Taata Mzee in April this year who was allegedly beaten by Kanyamas (bouncers in the market) because he was stopping vendors from paying taxes to the leaders even though the market dues had been scraped by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
Sula told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)that he rushed to the market when he heard commotion there when some vendors wanted to know how far the investigations into Seruyinda’s killing had progressed, but was stopped from capturing the events by a policeman just after six minutes.
“A policeman emerged and ordered me to stop filming and also hand over the video tape to him; he did not give me any reasons. He threatened to slap me if I did not comply. When I demanded to know why, a group of five police officers joined him; they pushed me down and confiscated my company Identity Card. They dragged me up to their Nakasero police post. There was a police woman under the rank of Sergeant who slapped me and hit my video camera as well, she wanted to take it away but when I resisted, she ordered to rock me up. She went and came back with two Kanyamas (bouncers) who threatened me with beating if I did not surrender the camera to them. They were standing outside of the police cell in which I spent over an hour.” Mutebi narrated to HRNJ-Uganda.
Mutebi said he was rescued by the arrival of other journalists who caused the intervention on the Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Andrew Felix Kaweesi who sent a certain officer to take him to the Central Police Station (CPS)-Kampala from where the matter was sorted out.
“The woman sergeant who assaulted me claimed she was securing me from an angry mob at the market, but those were total lies by this police officer. It is instead the vendors who tried to rescue me from the angry police mob. She claimed that she used a ‘Protective Arrest’ on me by arresting and detaining me.” added Mutebi.
Ssemakula Bambalazaabwe another journalist from the New Vision Group was held by the tie when he came to plead and rescue his colleague.
This comes just days after the police chief, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura apologized to the media for the excesses committed against journalists by police officers.
“It is very unfortunate to assault a journalist who was covering a news story in a non-chaotic situation. It puts Kayihura’s apology at stake because it may have been for public relations purposes if indeed police officers in the country continue to attack journalists in a period less than a week after the police chief’s apology. The police should investigate and arrest the police officers in question as a way of commitment to Kayihura’s apology.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.