A journalist Gerald Niyirinda working for Voice of Muhabura Radio based in Kisoro district, in Western Uganda has been allegedly assaulted by the Gateway bus Manager as he covered a demonstration staged by passengers in the bus park of Kisoro.
Gerald was assigned together with Dickens Twinomujuni an intern at the station by the Chief News Editor of Voice of Muhubura, Julius Irakunda to cover a group of passengers who were traveling from Kampala to Kisoro, but the bus driver and his conductor decided to leave them in Kabale which prompted the passengers to board another vehicle to reach their final destination in Kisoro from where they started a demonstration against being dropped off half their journey.
Mr. Irakunda told Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) that at around 12:00 noon, he receives a call from Dickens that Gerald had been assaulted and his voice recorder destroyed.
He told HRNJ-Uganda that, “Gerald was interviewing one of the passengers when the manager of GateWay bus services, one Yusuf came from behind and grabbed him and violently started slapping him as he also tried to take away his voice recorder. In the process, the recorder was destroyed and his shirt torn.
He said that Gerald managed to escape from the hands of Yusuf and started running as Yusuf pelted stones at him in a bid to inflict more pain on him.
A case of assault and malicious damage to property has been filed by Gerald with the help of his Editor at Kisoro Central Police Station.
The Deputy OC-CID of Kisoro Central Police Station Robert Tuhabwe has confirmed to HRNJ-Uganda that the journalist had filed a criminal case against the Manager Yusuf and that the police has taken the case seriously and is already handling it, though Yusuf is yet to be apprehended. He said that Yusuf has also filed a countercase of criminal trespass against the journalist.
We highly condemn the violent actions of the public service bus manager of slapping the journalist in the line of duty and destroying his voice recorder. We invite the police to arrest and expeditiously investigate the case so as to serve justice to the journalist and the media at large. We commend the Chief News Editor Julius Irakunda for standing with the journalist in pursuit of justice.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Executive Director, Robert Ssempala