The High court in Kampala has ordered Uganda Journalists Association (UJA) to pay Shs 10.8 million to the former registrar in charge of Planning and Development, Fred Waninda.
The money will be paid by UJA and two journalists; Hannington Kisakye and Eric Yiga, who filed a case alleging that Waninda had assaulted them. The journalists had filed a case alleging that Waninda had assaulted them during a scuffle at the Commercial court in Kampala in April 2019.
The scuffle reportedly occurred when Waninda appeared before the court to defend himself on allegations of forging an agreement with intentions of grabbing land belonging to Charles Mulindwa, a resident of Bugujju in Mukono municipality.
In the aftermath, the journalists sued Waninda on charges of assault. They also alleged that the registrar had destroyed their cameras for which they sought Shs 150 million in compensation. But the then-head of the civil division justice Dr Andrew Bashaija dismissed the case due to lack of evidence.
The judge’s decision was based on a testimony by one of the police officers who told the court that the journalists did not show him any damaged camera or injury caused by Waninda. He said that there was no proof that the journalists’ rights were violated.
Justice Bashaija dismissed the case and directed the journalists to pay costs incurred by Waninda while defending himself in the suit. A taxation ruling delivered today by the High court registrar Dr Alex Mushabe Karocho fixed the costs at Shs 10.8 million.
But lawyer Eron Kiiza said that they are going to apply for a stay of execution pending the determination of the appeal the respondents filed in the Court of Appeal.
“It demonstrates how risky a litigation can be because if you lose even if unfairly like in the present case which was a misapplication of the law by the trial judge who said that beating a journalist is not torture, there comes costs to it…None the less we’re continuing with our appeal process and we hope that a better court, a different panel of judges in the court of appeal will set aside and remove the decision and should be the culprit to pay the tortured victim not the other way round,” Kiiza said.
The journalists have since petitioned Judicial Service Commission over the said allegations against Waninda and the case is also still pending
Moment Commercial court registrar, Fred Waninda assaulted Smart 24 TV journalist, Hannington Kisakye for recording him as he exited court premises on Wednesday. Waninda is accused of land grabbing. #PressFreedomUG #media #pressfreedom pic.twitter.com/Y2ozy6Hfae
— The Observer (@observerug) April 26, 2019