DPC Mwesige Denies Assaulting Journalist, Blames Woes on Tribalism

Former DPC Jorum Mwesigye in court

The former old Kampala Division Police Commander (DPC) Joram Mwesigye has denied charges of assaulting a WBS journalist Andrew Lwanga and Bukedde TV’s Joseph Setimba on January 12, hospital 2015.

The two were according to prosecution, beaten up by the officer as they covered a youth protest, leaving Mr Lwanga with a spine injury that has persisted ever since.

Mwesigye, who decided to defend himself on unsworn testimony before Buganda Road Court Grade One magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu, told court that on January 12 he received intelligence information from SP Wesley Nganizi that there was a group of unemployed youths who planned to demonstrate in the city center from JEEMA Party offices in Mengo.

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He says he was charged by his bosses to “get the group at the JEEMA offices,” and that if they burned the city down he would be held personally responsible.

Mwesigye pointed out that this was one of his busiest days because he had deployed a number of his officers at Owino Market where the vendors had threatened to demonstrate, and Taxi drivers at
New Taxi Park had engaged in the riot on the same day, leaving him with a few officers at the station.

“Since all the Patrol cars were in the field, I boarded a bodaboda back to the station when I heard that some youths were marching to the city center. I withdrew some of the police officers at the station including senior detective ASP Ramadhan Kabinga and two constables and we boarded a private car to Mengo,” he said.

On the way to Mengo he says, they met the marching youths holding placards at Bakuli Traffic Lights, and attempted to stop them.

He says the youths were shouting that they had no jobs and wanted to meet with the IGP Kale Kayihura.

“We had no option since they had reached a very dangerous spot and were inciting other people to join them. I was pushed to the ground by one of them whom I didn’t recognize. There were very many cameramen mixed up with the protesters which made it hard to separate journalists from them”

The former DPC told court that in the scuffle, they managed to arrest six of the protesters including Andrew Lwanga whom they “had not noticed was a journalist” and they detained them at the station.

He adds that at the station Andrew complained of pain and was rushed to Mulago Hospital for treatment in a police vehicle.

“I was shocked when commanders from CPS called me that Lwanga had claimed I assaulted him and destroyed his camera.  Another Journalist called Ssetimba came with torn trousers and claimed that I ripped them.”

SP Mwesige added after the incident as a commander, he apologized to Lwanga on behalf of his team on whatever had happened and that WBS TV Management had promised to negotiate the matters outside of court, only for him to be arrested before the talks.

“This matter took another twist when it turned political with pressure from a number of political actors in the country,” he added. “Others turned it tribal, with some people attacking me for being a Munyankore and that we take ourselves to be a superior tribe.”

Mwesigye further blamed government, stating that despite of his distinguished service to the nation they paid him through turning against him and prosecuting him.

ASP Fred Magumba  who worked with Mwesigye as OC Operations at the same station informed court that during the arrest of Lwanga and other people he never witnessed any assault.

The trial magistrate cautioned journalists and other people from discussing about this matter before delivering her judgment, after the accused person complained that a number of media outlets had started discussing the merits of this case which made his life uncomfortable.

The case has been adjourned to 5th January 2016 for further hearing.

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