Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake was “dumped” at Rubaga hospital in Kampala at about 3am on the morning of Friday, according to his lawyer, Mr Richard Lumu.
This reporter tagged on the coattails of MPs led by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Ms Betty Aol Ocan, to visit Mr Zaake in hospital on Friday.
A health worker, who did not identify herself, led the team to the surgical ward where Mr Zaake was being treated on life support.
Mr Zaake’s head was covered from just above the eye lashes upwards and the mouth was covered with an oxygen mask. His eyes remained closed for the few minutes we peeped at him. The only other part of his face and body that was visible were the swollen cheeks. Tears flew down the cheeks of Ms Ocan, other MPs and journalists and you would hear a pin drop as everyone stood still, speechless.
The patient was in the care of a male doctor, who did not entertain any questions.
Outside the surgical ward, Ms Ocan said: “Hon Zaake’s life is on the mercy of God and we pray that he keeps him alive.”
Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who was part of the entourage, described Mr Zaake’s state as “vegetative”.
Sunday Monitor has spoken to one of the people who was arrested and detained in a van for a while together with Mr Zaake. The witness, who asked not to be named for security and other reasons, recounts the events:
“At about 7:50pm (on Monday) Zaake was pulled out of his room at Pacific Hotel [in Aura] by close to six UPDF soldiers. From what I heard them saying, they demanded of him to show them where Bobi Wine was and he insisted (that) he didn’t know. This prompted them to continue beating him up with sticks (enkoni). They eventually pushed him into the coaster (the witness had already been arrested and was inside the van). This coaster moves the advance SFC soldiers for the President.
It is in the car that Mr Zaake continued to engage these officers that he was a Member of Parliament, who should be treated with dignity.
This prompted more beatings. He was tied, (his legs and hands) with ropes. There were now four of us (detainees) in the van. He was on several occasions hit on the head with gun butts, boxed and slapped by close to seven officers. I could hear some of the Kiswalhili statements (they made), like pigga wujinga and others.
Zaake remained firm despite the torture and continued telling these officers about him being a member of the Defence Committee (of Parliament) that advocates for their well-being. But this fell on deaf ears.
We were later driven from the hotel to the State Lodge (in Arua) where these officers had supper from.
After having their supper, an officer entered the car and reminded zaake of the chaos at Parliament (in September 2017 when Zaake was badly injured and had to seek treatment in America) and Zaake responded by saying that it was caused by these same people. This again led to more beatings.
At this time, Zaake lost his cool and took on the soldiers, he called them ‘cowards’ and ‘lowly paid’.
He told them that he was not in politics for money as they had claimed that MPs earn huge salaries for nothing, but he was in it for the ‘liberation struggle’. This again led to more beatings until another officer entered the van and shouted out, ‘muwakye’ (Kiswahili for ‘leave him’) several times.
We were then driven away from the State Lodge to another destination, which I couldn’t figure out immediately.
I later found out that this is where some officers where lodging. We were kept there for about one hour. We were later driven to Arua Police Station where Zaake’s legs were untied and told to move out of the car. When he reached the counter of the police station, he blacked out.
When he blacked out at Arua Police Station, the officers did not react immediately until the MPs who had been taken there first, including Gerard Karuhanga and Paul Mwiru, protested that he should not be jailed but instead taken to hospital. It took more than 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. The MPs wanted to accompany him to hospital but they were stopped. He was taken away and that was when I last knew of his case until I heard of him being dropped at Rubaga Hospital.
Institutions, Individuals issue Statements on the events in Arua
“We are deeply concerned by recent events in Arua, Kampala, and Gulu, and disturbed by reports of brutal treatment of Members of Parliament, journalists, and others at the hands of security forces. All of those detained have the right to humane treatment, due process, access to lawyers and to their families, and a prompt, fair, and transparent trial. Those who need medical attention should be granted immediate access to a doctor of their choice. We urge the government to show the world that Uganda respects its Constitution and the human rights of all of its citizens.”
Buganda Kingdom has authored a strong criticism to government on the cruelties and torment of MPs Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East) and Francis Zaake (Mityana), saying such will lead to more resistance.
A statement by Buganda Katikkiro (premier) Charles Peter Mayiga criticised the use of torture and holding people incommunicado, warning that “violence and oppression only begets more violence and resistance.”
“Gruesome pictures of a badly injured Hon. Zaake have surfaced in the media and Hon Kyagulanyi’s lawyers have reported that he is badly injured. Both have been denied access to their families or medical practitioners of their choice,” Mr Mayiga said.
He urged the authorities to investigate the killing of Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawuma and the MPs’ torture.
By James Kabengwa
The chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, Mr Medi Kaggwa, told journalists after visiting Bobi Wine, that his (Bobi’s) face was indeed swollen, before hurrying to say that he was being given proper treatment.
“Hon Kyagulanyi informed the team that he had been severely tortured upon arrest in Arua where uniformed officers broke into his hotel room where in spite of having surrendered, they pounced on him, hit his head with an iron bar, indiscriminately beat and kicked him all over the body until he became unconscious,’’Mr Kaggwa said.
He, however said Bobi Wine was able to recognise his family members and wife and could recount some of the events which happened, an indication that he will get better soon.
By Damali Mukaye
“The Conference of Bishops of Uganda and also the Inter-religious Council of Uganda and the Uganda Joint Christian Council have been closely following the trend of events in the country.
We totally condemn what has happened in Arua. What is the purpose of killing? What is the purpose of treating the Opposition members unjustly like security forces did to them? Opposition members should be taken by the government as those who would make them to reflect on what they are doing for the nation.
The Opposition shouldn’t be seen as an enemy. The President is supposed to be the father of the nation. I don’t think it is right for him to be in direct confrontation with the Opposition [because] this causes more trouble.
By Owiny Jolly Tobbias
The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and UK, and the Heads of Mission of Norway and Iceland issue the following statement in Uganda.
The Heads of Mission are deeply concerned by the events that have occurred before and after the Arua Municipality by-election. The violence marring the day before the polls, the lack of accredited domestic observers, the reported brutal treatment of elected Members of the Uganda Parliament, journalists and civilians, as well as the loss of human life are very disquieting events. There is no room for repression nor violence in a modern democratic Uganda. The Heads of Mission call upon the Ugandan government, political parties and civil society to cooperate to ensure that the events that have caused much suffering to citizens and have damaged the global image of Uganda are addressed swiftly and transparently with full respect for the Rule of Law, and of the individual rights of all concerned.