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Uganda: Radio journalist Beaten to Death

This statement was originally published on June 16, 2016.

Thomas Ssettuba, the Programmes Manager of Radio Ssese, in Kalangala district was on 14th June, 2016 attacked and beaten by locals over a land dispute and later died of head injuries. The incident happened at Banda village Kagulube parish, Mugoye sub-county in Kalangala district where Ssettuba had gone to collect palm nuts from a firm located on 25 acres.

The District Police Commander, Kalangala district, Richard Musisi, told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda that Ssettuba was beaten with sticks and stones by squatters that left him unconscious, after inflicting three severe head injuries.

“On Tuesday, Ssettuba came to me at the station and asked for police protection to go and harvest his palm nuts, but I told him to produce a court order since there was an ongoing court case over the said land. When he went away, he got casual laborers who harvested the nuts. The squatters confronted him at around 8pm local time and engaged in an exchange before they pounced on him, beating him with sticks and stones injuring him severely on the head. We were called to the scene at Banda by our area police…” the DPC told HRNJ-Uganda.

“I rushed to the scene with the District Chairperson, Willy Lugoloobi and Dr. Mugisha. We found him unconscious and brought him to Kalangala Health Center IV from where he got treatment, but died at about 2am before we could transfer him to a referral hospital,” the DPC added.

The DPC said they have arrested ten people including two women suspected to have been involved in the murder. He said, “We are going to search for whoever is implicated in this murder and take them to court.” Mugisha told HRNJ-Uganda.

Some people blamed the police for not giving the journalist protection, well aware of the controversy surrounding the land he went to. Ssettuba, 32, had a land wrangle for four years with squatters over 25 acre palm tree firm he bought. The dispute is before High Court in Masaka.

Ssettuba has left behind a wife and a 7-year old baby. He will be buried today Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Kiryankuyege, Lukaya-Kalungu district.

“It is very sad to lose such a leader in the media industry. We believe that the police should have done more to contain the situation other than letting mob justice rule the day. All the culprits should be arrested and tried in court. Our sincere condolences to the deceased family and the media industry,” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala

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