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Female Journalists Attacked At Funeral: Allegedly Linked To Bobi Wine’s Vigilantes


Lwengo, 20th May 2024; Margret Kayondo and Zainab Namusaazi, reporters for Radio Ssimba and NBS TV respectively, faced an assault on May 18, 2024, allegedly by vigilantes safeguarding Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, the president of Uganda’s National Unity Platform (NUP), the country’s largest opposition party.

The incident unfolded during the burial ceremony of Pasikaali Ssekasamba, a London-based businessman, at Manja village in Lwengo district. The journalists recounted that vigilantes, led by Achileo Kivumbi and an unidentified person in a black mask, targeted them for documenting events during the funeral, particularly focusing on Abed Bwanika’s speech, the Member of Parliament for Kimaanya-Kabonera Division.

Namusaazi explained, “They threatened us because they didn’t want any negative coverage. Some journalists were pressured to delete footage of Bwanika’s speech, but they resisted, leading to damage or theft of their equipment, including phones and cameras.”

Kayondo shared her ordeal, stating, “I was filming Bwanika’s speech when a bodyguard noticed and attacked me, demanding to know what I was recording. He forcefully took my phone, wrestled me down, and nobody intervened.”

The attack has instilled fear among journalists in Masaka. Both victims expressed reluctance to cover events involving Kyagulanyi and his team. Kayondo expressed, “I won’t cover anything related to Kyagulanyi because I fear for my safety.” At the same time, Namusaazi demanded an apology and reimbursement for the damaged equipment before considering reporting on NUP-related activities.

Speaking to HRNJ-Uganda, Waiswa Mufumbiro, the NUP deputy spokesperson, firmly rejected any allegations of involvement in harmful attacks on female journalists. He compared the accusations to collusion and bias, emphasizing that they are unfounded.

“It’s simply not true that Kyagulanyi’s bodyguards attacked journalists,” Mufumbiro stated. “I haven’t even identified some of these journalists from Masaka yet. It’s disappointing and biased for journalists to blame us [NUP] without evidence. It suggests they were working with others.”

Mufumbiro stressed that no one from their side assaulted journalists. “We value and support journalists; we wouldn’t harm them. These are false narratives pushed by certain journalists from Masaka against the NUP.”

Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director, HRNJ-Uganda expressed concern, saying, “Journalists should be kept safe at all times as they do their noble work of correcting and reporting news. The culprits in this unwarranted assault of journalists should be held personally liable.”

The incident highlights the ongoing challenges journalists face in Uganda and the need to safeguard their rights and safety while carrying out their duties.

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