Mao jailed, 100 arrested over protest

By Vision reporter

DEMOCRATIC Party (DP) president Norbert Mao and six other party members yesterday declined bail and were sent to Luzira Prison as the Police arrested over 100 people over the walk-to-work protests.

By ANDANTE OKANYA
and STEVEN CANDIA

DEMOCRATIC Party (DP) president Norbert Mao and six other party members yesterday declined bail and were sent to Luzira Prison as the Police arrested over 100 people over the walk-to-work protests.

Mao and his co-accused, who included the party deputy spokesperson, Kenneth Paul Kakande, John Mary Sebuwufu, Kamya Kasozi, Moses Bigirwa, Kintu Elvis and Taddeo Kalule, were charged with assault and inciting violence.

They were charged at City Hall Court before Grade One Magistrate Juliet Hatanga.

Each of the accused pleaded not guilty and opted to be taken to prison, saying “the charges were trumped up”.

Prosecution said yesterday at Ntinda, a Kampala suburb, the accused assaulted a Police officer, Sgt. Yusuf Bayise, and “occasioned actual body harm” on him contrary to Section 237 of the Penal Code Act.

Prosecution further reported that in the same area, the accused, “without lawful excuse”, incited others into violence by fronting their political opinions.

Hatanga informed them of their constitutional right to bail but they declined, saying it was an option they desired. Their lawyer, Samuel Muyizzi, reiterated their opinion, saying he had not received instructions to apply for bail.

Accordingly, Hatanga remanded them until May 2.

The state prosecutor, Joyce Tushabe, informed court that “investigations into the matter were still ongoing”.
Mao threw the court into laughter when he said he was guilty of fighting for the common man’s cause.

“If it is an offence to protest the high food prices, then I am guilty. If it is an offence to speak out on people’s misery, then I am guilty,” he said.

Mao added that him and his co-accused were law-abiding citizens and that the real offenders were walking about unhindered.

Speaking at the court shortly before they set off to Luzira Prison, Mao explained that they refused to ask for bail because they were determined to continue protesting for a genuine cause. “Even if we were to be bailed out, we would continue with the protest tomorrow,” he said.

At about 5:25pm, they were whisked away to prison aboard a Police pick-up patrol car, as they flashed DP signs and waved to supporters.

On April 11 at the same court, Mao, together with six others, were charged before the same magistrate with inciting violence and failure to comply with traffic rules.

But they were later freed unconditionally when court faulted the state for acting unconstitutionally by producing them in court after the official court business hours (after 5:00pm).

On conviction for inciting violence, one is liable to imprisonment for 14 years, while the penalty for assaulting a Police officer on duty is imprisonment for seven years.

Meanwhile, the Police arrested over 100 people countrywide as the walk-to-work demonstration by the opposition against high commodity prices entered the second week yesterday.

The arrests took place as security operatives moved to contain demonstrations in Kampala, Mukono, Jinja, Luweero, Masaka and Bushenyi.

Most of the arrests were carried out in Kampala, where the Police fought running battles with rioters in Makindye Luwaafu, Bweyogerere, Kireka, Kasubi, Kyaliwajjala, Namugongo, Ntinda and Kasangati suburbs.

Addressing journalists at the Kampala Central Police Station yesterday, Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said 98 suspects had been arrested in Kampala. Six others, she said, were arrested in Jinja, bringing the total to 104.

Most of the suspects had been arraigned in various courts on various charges, while others were still in custody pending appearance in court.

She said 22 suspects were arrested and detained at Jinja Road police station, seven in Katwe, eight in Old Kampala, two in Kawempe, and one in Kajjansi.

Five were in Kasangati, seven at Kira road and 46 in Kira division.


Mao jailed, 100 arrested over protest