MP Zaake addressing media. Left is Journalist Samuel Sseggirinnya
BY EMMA MUGEJJERA
TORTURED Uganda Parliament legislator Francis Butebi Zaake yesterday Monday May 04th 2020 addressed media from his sick bed at St. Francis Hospital Lubaga in Kampala, revealing how Voice of Africa radio journalist Hashim Mood Katende is still incarcerated in the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) at Kireka. At the same time another political talk show host senior journalist Samuel Sseggirinnya is on the run since January 05th 2019.
MP Zaake, the opposition People Power National Youth Cordinator was picked from his Mityana Municipality Constituency residence by security operatives who were armed to the teeth.
He narrated to media how he was tortured for almost 12 days until public pressure on the ruling NRM Government to free this youthful member of the Ugandan Parliament became too much to bear.
State produced Zaake on a stretcher in a Mityana Court an act which Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga and Human Rights activists condemned calling it heartless and inhuman.
In a press conference yesterday, MP Zaake narrated a shocking story on how he was tortured.
“In the torture chambers, i was shocked to meet different kinds of captives including journalists like Katende of Voice of Africa radio. They are going through daily torture because of their boldness against corruption, injustice and dictatorship.” Said Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi’s fellow leader in People Power.
Katende is working with radio Voice of Africa show called ‘Buuza Oyige’ that used to run on radio every Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. He is alleged to have posted against Covid-19 Government program.
When the News Editor Media privately talked to Zaake about another missing journalist Samuel Sseggirinnya, the MP who is bedridden at the Catholic owned Hospital said, “Just know there are many incarcerated journalists at this torture chamber. Inside, I did not hear about Sseggirinnya’s name but I can’t be sure.”
Sseggirinnya is said to have gone missing from his home at around 1am on January 05th 2019 when plain clothed men, with guns allegedly raided his home and forced their way into his house to arrest this journalist.
When day broke, his family reported to the area Local council what had transpired in the night. The chairman local council immediately informed the District Police Commander (DPC) about the fact that Sseggirinnya was missing but he was of no help.
On January 08th, media published a story about Sseggirinnya’s disappearance and family cried out to government to help locate their person and be told, why he is hunted. But every one was mute.
According to his wife Sarah Sseggirinnya, “All started on Saturday on December 15th 2018, when my husband Samuel Sseggirinnya a journalist by profession was intercepted by plain clothed security personels just a few meters from the gate of the Light Radio 107.7 fm Premises on his way back home.”
“One of them asked him whether he knew Mr. Samuel Sseggirinnya who was the host of the Political Talk Show Program on Light 107.7 FM from 7:00pm-9:00pm.” Said Ms. Sarah Ssegirinya.
He was the one but these men had not recognised him.
Little did he know that they were wrong people.
“Here I am. How may I help you sirs.” Asked Samuel Sseggirinnya.
One of the men on realizing that he was the guy they were looking for, warned him to stop hosting opposition politicians, or else, he risked putting his life in danger.
“We are security personels. Your radio shows especially those where you host opposition politicians are being closely monitored. It’s enough, host them again, at your own risk. You will be sent to meet your ancestors if you are not careful.” Sseggirinnya was warned.
They told him, he must desist from hosting anti government politicians who expose the ruling government.
Sseggirinnya told them of how he was a professional journalist who would maintain the ethics and continue giving opposition politicians a platform.
They jumped into a waiting tinted car and drove off.
His wife narrates, on January 05th 2019 at around 1:00am, she heard a knock at the door immediately followed by a voice asking for help.
In their house, was also her brother.
As he was still asking who was at the door that night and which kind of help he wanted, four armed men wearing civilian clothes forced themselves into the house.
“They have come for me”, my husband whispered to me.”
On entering, Sarah told us, they manhandled and forced Sseggirinnya out of the bedroom, kicked and boxed him.
“He was brutaly arrested. I witnessed them slapping him, spraying him with pepper spray and knocking him down. Before putting the rest of us at gun point and ordering us to lay down with our faces straight on the ground. One of the men who raided our home was heard telling my husband that, ‘We warned you not to host opposition politicians but you refused. Now your time has come. It is time to pay for your sins.’ My husband tried to plead with these men but none was ready to listen.” Said Sarah Sseggirinnya.
“My brother managed to make a loud alarm, I joined him and the attackers instead turned on us, started beating and ordering us to shut up. This might have aided my husband to escape! They ran after him, thank God, he was not got. If they had, who knows whether he would be history now.” Said Sarah, Sseggirinnya’s wife.
Early morning, they reported to the Authorities about the attackers, now that Mr. Samuel Sseggirinnya was also missing, however, they didn’t get help.
Days later, Sarah saw a car packed near their home at around 9pm but the occupants never got out of the car.
The family is living in too much fear, because those witch hunting Sseggirinnya have vowed not to rest until they get him.
TORTURING JOURNALISTS IN UGANDA
There are so many reported cases where journalists have been beaten, maimed and disabled by police and other security agencies.
Some time last year, journalists demonstrated against police brutality and injustices boycotting covering police activities. Affected journalists include former WBS TV journalist now on Spark Tv Andrew Lwanga, Samuel Sseggirinnya, James Akena and many others.
They are accused of covering and hosting opposition leaders like Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, leader People Power.
Uganda’s army made a rare apology after a video of soldiers beating up a journalist who was covering a demonstration by MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s supporters went viral.
Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) has on many fronts condemned the attack on the Fourth Estate.