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Police Officers Assault Journalists in Fort Portal

Sylvia Kugonza, one of the journalists, says the incident occurred at around 7 pm on Wednesday when the journalists were returning from work. She explains that as they were approaching Kenya Commercial Bank branch in Kisenyi, Fort Portal, they met the Kabarole District Police Commander – DPC John Faustine Oese and other police officers on patrol.
Journalists giving first aid to Katungi who collapsed outside the RDCs office in Booma, Fort Portal

Audio 4

Police officers in Fort Portal are on the spot for assaulting journalists for allegedly defying the curfew orders. 

The journalists are Sylvia Kugonza, Fortunate Katungi, Joshua Ahabyoona and Ritah Kobusinge all working with Jubilee, a Catholic radio station located in Fort Portal Municipality.  

In March, President Museveni instituted a nationwide curfew as one of the measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by the Coronavirus. The curfew starts at 7pm and ends at 6:30am.

Kugonza says the incident occurred at around 7 pm on Wednesday when the journalists were returning from work. She explains that as they were approaching Kenya Commercial Bank branch in Kisenyi, Fort Portal, they met the Kabarole District Police Commander – DPC John Faustine Oese and other police officers on patrol.

According to Kugonza, the police officers immediately started beating the journalists despite the latter identifying themselves.

Katungi says that he was repeatedly beaten on the head by over eight policemen. He is currently admitted at Alpha Clinic in Fort Portal. 

//Cue in: “Itwe tubaire baamakuru…

Cue out… nibansamba nibanteera.”//   

Katungi added that in the process, he lost his money and food he had bought for his family. 

 //Cue in: “Nomubwiire bunu obugumangaine…

Cue out… can’t swallow anything.”//   

On Thursday, a group of journalists under Tooro Media Practitioners’ Association – TOMPA petitioned different offices including the Police Professional Standards Unit and the Kabarole Resident District Commissioner, Steven Asiimwe, demanding for action to be taken against DPC Oese and the police officers.  

The journalists have also reported a case of assault under file reference number SD/26/21/05/2020.

However, Oese denies commanding any police officer to beat journalists.

Patrick Alituha, a journalist said that they are going to suspend coverage of police activities and COVID-19 related stories until justice for their colleagues has been served.  

//Cue in: “Itwe ogwaitu guli…

Cue out… atufokiire nkoko mbisi.”//  

Security officers have come under criticism for brutality while enforcing the COVID-19 guidelines. Last month, eleven police officers in Gulu were arrested for brutality. The officers reportedly beat up people at Elegu Town Council in Amuru District for allegedly disobeying the curfew orders.

Following reports of brutality among enforcement officers, President Museveni instructed Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit, to rein in on such behaviour.