Some women vendors who were battered by security operatives last week during the implementation of the presidential directives on Covid-19 measures are still nursing wounds and counting losses.
President Museveni had on March 25 directed all traders selling non-food items in markets to stop working. He only gave a green light to those selling food items to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
However, the following day Local Defence Unit (LDUs) personnel started beating people, including women who were vending fruits.
Daily Monitor followed up some of the women who were caned and they narrated their ordeal.
Ms Hadijah Aloya, a single mother of seven children, and resident of Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb, said no sooner had she put down her fruits basket on the roadside near Cooper Complex than three LDU operatives charged at her from behind. She said they beat her using electric wires.
“I am a harmless woman, but three men descended on me and started beating me. One officer kicked me because I asked them why they were beating me,” Ms Aloya said.
“If it was not the Local Council chairman of the area who saved me, these guys were going to kill me. They should have asked me to vacate. This is not fair and government should discipline them,” she said, adding that said she lost all her capital.
Ms Christine Awori, is another woman who was beaten, said she had stopped working few weeks back until she heard the President on media saying all those selling food should be left to operate.
She said on the fateful Thursday at 8am, she was in Nakasero market to shop what she was going to sell on the street.
She says at around 9am, she strolled to Mukwano Arcade to sell fruits (guavas, passion fruits and lemons) but as soon as she had positioned herself with her 11- year old daughter, they saw LDUs accompanied by a police officer who bypassed them on the street heading to the opposite direction.
She said the officers made a U-turn and started beating them up. She injured her hands and back.
“My daughter was beaten badly like six times and as we talk right now, her hand is still swollen. She has bruises on her buttocks and hips,” Ms Awori said.
She said her pleas to LDUs to allow her take her merchandise were futile. She dropped the fruits on the road and ran for her life.
“I am a single mother with five children and I earn my living for rent, school fees and feeding my children from this business. Any loss I make impacts greatly on my life and family,” she said.
Ms Awori who resides in Kiyaye Zone, one of the slums in Nakulabye, said she started working in 1990 and has been operating at Old Taxi Park.
Government, police speak
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo apologised to the women who were beaten and promised that this will not happen again.
“This was not Museveni’s directives. I have been in contact with concerned authorities. The directive was misunderstood by some lower commanders. Consultations are underway to ensure incidences like this does not reoccur, apologies,” Mr Opondo said on his Twitter handle.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said whatever happened on that day was based on intelligence of anticipated chaos in the city.
“Our action on that day was intelligence guided meant to address a specific condition that we successfully managed to avert it,” he said.