Andrew Lwanga: A Journalist’s Long Walk to ‘Injustice’ – ChimpReports
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Andrew Lwanga: A Journalist’s Long Walk to ‘Injustice’

VICTIM: Andrew Lwanga leaves Buganda Road Court yesterday

Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu on Friday sentenced former Old Kampala DPC, hospital http://childrensclasses.org/wp2012/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/json-endpoints/class.wpcom-json-api-taxonomy-endpoint.php Jorum Mwesigye to a Shs. 1Million fine after convicting him for assaulting Andrew Lwanga, erectile http://ca-uqam.info/wp-content/themes/divi/includes/builder/class-et-builder-plugin-compat-base.php a former WBS TV Journalist.

The sentence however, dismayed fellow journalists who saw it as too light and less deterrent.

Beginning

The afternoon of January 12, 2015 will for long linger in the mind of Lwanga, formerly working with WBS television as a cameraman.

While covering youths under the National Association of the Unemployed who were matching to meet the Inspector General of Police at Naguru, police led by DPC Mwesigye intercepted the procession at Bakuli and used force to disperse them.

At the end of day, Mr Lwanga was bed-ridden in hospital after he was clobbered to oblivion by the DPC.

The police officer bundled Lwanga into his Toyota Mark II series vehicle and drove him to detention at Old Kampala police station.

It took the intervention of journalists and another policeman for injured Lwanga — who was now crying of pain in the chest and head – to be rushed to Mulago Hospital.

On recuperation, he proceeded to Kampala Central Police Station to record a statement but the worse turned to worst when he collapsed at the station.

Lwanga, helped by fellow journalists was rushed to Nsambya Hospital for treatment where he would spend over a month.

At one time, he was stopped from leaving the hospital for failure to clear the bills.

Scans revealed that he had an injury on his spine and had to undergo specialized surgery.

Fast forward, 2 years later, Lwanga still needs clutches to walk and still feels pain.

Judgment

At 10am on Friday, he slowly limps to Court Room 4 at the Buganda Road Chief Magistrates court, which is giving its final verdict on the assault case.

Dressed in a well pressed light blue shirt, black pants and black canvass shoes, Lwanga is assisted by Human Rights Network for Journalists’ Robert Ssempala to take a seat.

A few minutes to 11, the magistrate, a light skinned lady, dressed in a black robe and cream top with specs strolls into the courtroom. Her names: Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu.

The courtroom is filled to capacity by journalists and relatives of the police officer.

Anxiety is audible, as everyone awaits the final ruling on the case that has been handled by 4 different Magistrates in the period of 2 years.

The magistrate wants everyone to turn off their mobile phones and electronic gadgets before the court clerk can summon suspects to the dock.

She has over 20 other cases to handle before starting on Lwanga’s at around 3 pm, over 5 hours later.

The hour long judgment winds up convicting the former DPC of assaulting Mr Lwanga, and echoes strong condemnation of the assault.

“I do find that witnesses properly identified him as the only one putting on a khaki uniform and is seen in the video beating Lwanga,” the magistrate ruled.

Convict: Former DPC Jorum Mwesigye

Convict: Former DPC Jorum Mwesigye

“Lwanga had been properly dressed up in a blue WBS shirt… Even if the DPC mistook him for a youth, he had no justification of assaulting anyone. This is contrary to section 236 of the Penal Code Act.”

The magistrate however declined to agree with the prosecution that cameras belonging to Lwanga and Joseph Ssettimba, a Bukedde journalist had been damaged. She said there was no proof to show the particulars of the damaged parts of the cameras on top of receipts indicating ownership of the said gadgets.

“If there was any case, it would be WBS to complain,” she said of one of the cameras; thus acquitting the former DPC of charges of damaging property.

Lwanga Breaks Down

Meanwhile, the magistrate asked Andrew Lwanga, the victim to say a few words before she could hand the sentence to the now convict.

Lwanga broke down while narrating to court the suffering he has gone through for the last 2 years, since the January 2015 incident.

“I don’t know what to say; I have had pain on my heart for the last 2 years. The situation has kept on deteriorating day by day,” he told court.

“My bills accumulated to USD 65000 yet police that had promised to give a hand only contributed a little. They have been tossing me around for years now. I have kids to look after.”

Lwanga who asked for a deterrent sentence to his tormentor said he is only surviving on handouts from relatives and friends.

However, when his turn to say something came, the former Old Kampala DPC said it was a disturbing experience, but emphasized he has no grudge with Lwanga.

Sentence

The magistrate then sentenced the errant DPC to a one million shillings fine or serving one year in prison.

“It is very unfortunate that someone at a level of DPC can turn to a journalist and assault him. There have been many cases of assault by police officers on people; there is need to deter them,” she said. “However hard the situations, officers need to exercise due diligence.”

The magistrate also ordered the former DPC to compensate Lwanga with 5 million shillings to cater for the medical bills

Injustice?
Journalists were however not happy with the ‘light’ sentence saying it only acted to give leeway to police officers to assault them.

“We are going to appeal this decision. In simple terms, anyone can beat a journalist and part with one million shillings which is unacceptable,” said Lwanga.

According to journalists, the sentence did not serve justice to the victim and could encourage impunity.

“On a crime of that magnitude, the sentence was not deterrent at all. We shall see many officers go on rampage beating journalists in a similar fashion and get away with it,” said Human Rights Network for Journalists coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

“Justice has today been defeated .Members of the media fraternity need to fight for better.”

However city lawyer Julius Galisonga expressed a different view.

He said convicting the former Old Kampala DPC was a big step in the right direction.

“It sends a strong message to law enforcers that you can be held personally liable for gross acts in the course of executing your duties,” Galisonga told this website.

He added that the whole process of trial was to punish someone convicted of committing a crime, which he said happened.

“It was a good decision as far as I can see and considering that criminal trials require proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

Galisonga however advised the battered journalist to seek redress for compensation in a higher court considering the conviction.

“It makes it almost automatic for the civil suit to succeed.”

” With this judgment, at least the victim can be able to successfully sue for compensation in a civil suit. Court can  compensate  including special damages, for expenses incurred for treatment, general damages for the suffering as a result of the abuse and possibly punitive damages, in a clearly gross case such as this,” Galisonga says.

 

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