Kabale, 29th/Oct/2010; A New Vision reporter, Goodluck Musinguzi has his life threatened following a hate campaign perpetrated by Voice of Kigezi in its morning radio show programme.
The programme under the name ‘Ruhondeza’ meaning to wake-up somebody who is oversleeping in English was aired on 18th/Oct/2010 between 6am-10am modulated by Julius Balusha and Prosy Ainembabazi.
Musinguzi is the Newspaper’s correspondent in Kabale district in South Western part of Uganda.
Voice of Kigezi is a private radio station co-owned by the Chairman of the Ugandan Broadcasting Council, Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi.
The hate campaign was in retaliation to a news story written by Musinguzi in Orumuri- a weekly newspaper in a local dialect and later in the New Vision- a government owned weekly paper, to the effect that two Ugandans had been arrested and detained in Rwanda over unknown but potentially sensitive security matters.
Didas Ndamira an accountant with Voice of Kigezi and Simpson Mpirerwe where reportedly arrested on 19th/Sept/2010, and have since in detention.
Musinguzi told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that since the stories were ran, the managers at Voice of Kigezi convened a closed meeting over the matter because it involved its staff and decided to take action against him for having authored the said stories.
“The following day after their meeting, the radio’s morning show crew took it upon themselves to haul insults at me blaming me for running unfactual and malicious stories against their staff member” Said Musinguzi.
He however says that he only gave their profile in terms of work, involvement in politics and their family background, but he did not include reasons for their arrest and detention.
Musinguzi says that after the radio programme, he started receiving cell phone short messages threatening his live and equating him to a cockroach which needed to be wiped out of society.
One of the messages read, “You’re a big cockroach/enyenze that should be completely wiped out on the face of this earth”. The message was sent to me on 16th/Oct/2010.
Another one was, “You’re just like them ‘cockroaches’ u r a traitor to VOK family. Didas was human like u, be sympathetic to his family at trying moment. Stop peddling lies about the victims in Rwanda.” Both messages came on the same day.
However the radio management denies knowledge of the source of these threatening messages, although admit to having had a progaramme on their radio attacking Musingizi over the stories he wrote in the papers.
“We heard our presenters making these attack live on air against Musinguzi. We cautioned them after the programme. We are also planning to replace them before the 2011 general elections because this was not their first time to attack personalities while on air.” VOK radio manager told HRNJ-Uganda.
HRNJ-Uganda has learnt that the case was reported to Kabale police station and the victim has recorded a statement but nobody has been arrested or summoned for questioning.
However, the area police insist they summoned the presenters in question. “We summoned these suspects but they have never appeared before us.” Said the Officer in Charge of Kabale police station Obongo Deo. He however could not give details of when the summons was issued raising suspicion of the said summons.
HRNJ-Uganda has petitioned the Independent Media Council of Uganda to investigate the matter and take the necessary action. “Media freedoms come with the responsibility of professionalism. All practitioners must follow professional code of ethics during their work. We don’t want to see a situation where someone is killed as a result of media hate campaign. HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala said.
HRNJ-Uganda has had a lengthy discussion with the area police over the urgency of investigating the matter to establish the source of the text messages that threatened violence against Musinguzi. The Police have promised to avail the findings by Monday 1st/Nov/2010.
For more information contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road, Mengo- Bulange, Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Preparatory School
Tel: +256-414-272934 /+256-414-667627 / +256-701-810079
Toll Free helpline: 0800144155