This statement was originally published on hrnjuganda.org on 5 March 2021.
Four local comedians known as Bizonto have been arraigned before Buganda Road Court and charged with one count of promoting sectarianism.
The four were arrested and detained incommunicado for over a week until HRNJ-Uganda secured a court order to release them unconditionally or be taken to court.
The group of four, all of whom work for the local station Radio Simba as presenters, includes Julius Sserwanja, Maliseeri Mbabali, Gold Ki Marino, and Peter Ssabakazi; they appeared before Grade One Magistrate Asuna Muhumuza and denied the alleged offence.
Through their team of four lawyers led by Derrick Lutalo, the journalists applied to be freed on bail pending disposal of the charge against them. In their bail application, they pleaded constitutional rights to apply for bail and being responsible citizens with family and children to look after.
The lawyers presented several sureties including Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda), whom they asked the court to find substantial. In response, the prosecution led by Patricia Chingtho opposed the bail application saying the sureties presented didn’t have their respective local council letters confirming their places of residence.
The Magistrate however overruled her saying the national identity cards produced by each of the sureties was more credible and compiling the document. He accordingly granted them bail of 100,000 shillings cash and their sureties were bonded at 500,000 shillings not cash.
The suspects were ordered to reappear in court on 8 April 2021 for mention as inquiries progress. Documents before the Court show that the accused persons and others were still at large, during the month of July 2020 within the district of Kampala, and made and published on different social media platforms videos containing information which is likely to cause ‘discontent’ among the citizens of Uganda against the Banyankole tribe – the videos indicated that most of the leaders in Uganda are from the Banyankole tribe from the western region of the county.
“We are happy that the four were all released on bail. This will allow them to continue with their media work. We trust that the court will expeditiously handle this matter which had come at such a critical voice,” said HRNJ-Uganda.
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Source: MEDIA FEED