Kampala, 28th January 2013; the police in Uganda’s Capital Kampala on Saturday 26 January, arrested a Radio Simba News anchor and whisked him away on a police patrol, causing panic at the Bukoto-based radio station as the radio went off for some time since there was no one to read the top of the hour news. He was mistaken for Muwanga Kivumbi, the Butambala Member of Parliament who was the police’s target for his role in the banned 4GC (For God and My Country)activities. Muwanga, who was being hosted on a Saturday talk show ‘Ggasibagane ne banamawulire’ (Faceoff with the journalists) managed to find his way out of the gate as the arresting policemen did not know his identity.
James Tenywa was arrested at around midday as he asked the police to explain their heavy deployment and siege of the radio premises for over two hours. The police were waiting to apprehend Kivumbi. The operation was led by the Kampala Metropolitan Police operations commander, Sam Omara.
“It appears that police could not positively identify Kivumbi, so when I came out and started questioning the heavy police deployment, they arrested me, pushed me into the waiting patrol car as I insisted on knowing my crime. I wanted to identify myself but they didn’t allow me. They whisked me away, but mid-way to Kira Road police station, they realized that I was the wrong person. They let me free and I walked back to the station. The radio went off for 5 minutes before I came back. So I read the news 5 minutes late.” Tenywa told HRNJ-Uganda
One of the officers reportedly made a phone call to his superiors confirming that Muwanga Kivumbi had been arrested, “yes we have him. We are bringing him” the officer reportedly said before realizing it was a wrongful arrest. The police deputy spokesperson, Vincent SSekatte declined to apologize for the incident, “When he asked for what the police were doing at the radio, they thought he was the one, that’s why he was arrested but it had nothing to do with Radio Simba.” He told HRNJ-Uganda
The police are fond of arresting people soon after appearing on talk shows. In 2009, a former Radio One talk show host Robert Kalundi Sserumaga was arrested as he left WBS television where he had been hosted, while early this year, a workers’ Member Of Parliament Dr Sam Lyomoki was arrested as he left WBS TV after a TV show. In 2003, Betty Nambooze who was a critical journalist was arrested at CBS radio at Bulange as she was about to appear on a weekly radio program.
“The police should desist from using media houses as a catchment area for suspects as this would insinuate that the management of the respective media houses connive with the police to cause the arrest of some politicians, which in the end the politicians would be scared of associating with particular media houses. The police should resort to alternative means of summoning the suspects, other than causing hatred against the media houses.” Said HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala