Kampala, 26th/Sept/2010; Two photojournalists working with different media houses in Uganda were confronted and beaten up while on duty at two different entertainment spots in Kampala.
Stuart Yiga, 26, a reporter and photojournalist with the Red pepper publication was beaten up by a city lawyer, Geoffrey Kayanja and smashed his camera accusing him of taking his photos at graduation party held at Club T1, located along 2nd street, Industrial area in Kampala.
Yiga, a resident of Mutungo in Nakawa division, Kampala district, who has been working with the Red pepper since 2008, says he had been invited to the party by the organizers as a journalist. The took place on 22nd/Sept/2010.
Yiga says that when he took Kayanja’s photos while sharing romantic moments with a certain woman at the party, at around 1:00am, Kayanja charged at him bitterly demanding to know who had given him the permission to do so.
“When I took his photos while swapping saliva with a certain girl, Kayanja asked me why I had photographed him. Before I could explain, he got hold of my collar, slapped me twice and dragged me out of the club”, Yiga narrates.
He adds that, “once outside, he grabbed my camera, removed the lens and hit it hard on the floor and smashed the camera frame as well demanding for an explanation for taking his photos”.
Yiga says that he managed to run away for dear life, but returned moments later to look for his camera memory card at the scene where again he found Kayanja still waitng.
“He slapped me another time, confiscated the card and he bragged off that I was free to go and report”, yiga adds.
Yiga says that once in his car, Kayanja threw at him his business card telling him that he now had known the type of person he was messing up with.
Yiga reported a case of assault and malicious damage to property at the Jinja road police station.
Meanwhile, the other journalist who suffered almost the same fate is Mubiru Kakebe, a photojournalist with the New Vision publication, where he has worked for three years now.
Mubiru, 30, is a resident of Kyebando, Eriisa zone in Kawempe division, Kampala district.
He was covering an entertainment event of a live musical performance by the Qwela band at Club Rouge, located on Commercial Plaza building near railway headquarters along Jinja road in Kampala –the Capital City of Uganda, on the 22nd/Sept/2010.
He says he had been cleared by the security personnel at the venue, but got confronted moments after the band had started performing, at around 11pm, by a man who introduced himself as the director and owner of the entertainment spot.
Efforts to justify his presence and clearance by the security did not stop this man from ordering his bouncers to rough him up and throw him outside of the club.
“I resisted surrendering my camera but in vain as they overpowered me. They confiscated my camera and bag which had valuable items including my house keys”, Narrates Kakebe.
Kakebe adds that, “This man boxed me hard injuring one of my eyes and I fell down helplessly”.
“When the police arrived, they took me and another man Ivan Byamugisha who was brought in as the owner of the place, to the Central police Station (CPS) in Kampala from where both of us recorded statements”.
The Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has learnt that the police have ordered the management of the entertainment spot to produce the bouncers who reportedly roughed and beat up Kakebe, but has not responded and no action has been taken by the police against them.
The case is before police.
“These acts are very unfortunate especially when these perpetrators of this gross abuse of rights and law have not met with the full force of the law”, Says the HRNJ-Uganda Board Chairman, Robert Ssempala.
The police have the challenge of bringing to book such culprits who take it upon themselves to harass and beat up journalists at will. HRNJ-Uganda demands that the law council takes displinary action against errant practitioners like Kayanja, who chose to take into their hands instead of taking lawful means.
For more information contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road, Mengo- Bulange, Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Preparatory School
Tel: +256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079