Vision Group journalist Damba Wiziri has opened up three cases of assault, robbery and malicious damage against workers at the Integrated Community Based Initiatives (ICOBI), a local health NGO.
In the case filed at Sheema Police Station under SD Ref 49/01/08/2018, Damba says the NGO staff beat him up, took his camera and phone on 30 July 2018, while he covered a demonstration in Sheema Municipality against the election of Minister Elioda Tumwesigye as area MP.
Following the assault, the reporter was rushed to Mayanja Memorial Hospital in Mbarara where he has been receiving treatment.
Speaking to Chimpreports, Damba said he was discharged yesterday after recovering from severe injuries; headache and throat pain which he said was due to strangling.
He narrated that during the scuffle, ICOBI workers headed by one of the administrators Godwin Arikwera asked him to surrender his camera or get killed, which he did for fear of his life.
Arikwera, according to the journalist, was armed with a machete while others held big stones.
Among the suspects he listed in the police statement are; Sheema District Community Liaison Officer Coleb Twesigye, Sheema RDC’s Brother Robert Bijuuka, Charles Tashorora and Godwin Arikwera all employees of the NGO.
With the help of human rights network for journalists (HRNJ) Chairperson Robert Ssempala, Damba filed a case against the four yesterday.
Later police acknowledged that they had Damba’s camera and his bag in safe custody.
However, Ssempala told Damba not to collect them so that police can explain how they got the items which originally were grabbed by ICOBI workers.
Ssempala, while speaking to ChimpReports encouraged all journalists including editors and managers to work together to seek justice for victimized journalists.
Journalists in Mbarara and those in Bushenyi under their body Bushenyi Journalists and Media Association (BUJAMA) have since organized a peaceful demonstration in Sheema town to take place today Friday 3rd.
However Sheema DPC Hillary Mukiza says police is not aware of any demonstration in Sheema.
He advised the journalists to write to the IGP to grant them permission.
“Journalists are supposed to know the law, let them follow the protocol and write to the IGP who will allow them. If they go against it for us we shall swing into action and arrest them under the Public Order Management Act,” said Mukiza.