Mbale Pastor, followers arrested for defying Presidential directive on gatherings

Monday March 30 2020

Pastor Geofrey Mulema (in a white shirt)

Pastor Geofrey Mulema (in a white shirt) alongside his followers being arrested by police on Sunday. PHOTO BY YAHUDU KITUNZI  

By YAHUDU KITUNZI

Police in Mbale District on Sunday arrested a Pastor and two of his followers for reportedly failing to adhere to the President’s directive on public gatherings.

Pastor Geofrey Mulema of Bugema Victory Church in Bukasakya Sub-County and his followers were arrested following a tip off from concerned residents.

The pastor together with his two followers, Ms Rosemary Nambuya and Ms Edith Namalome, were in the praise and worship session when they got arrested.

President Museveni recently suspended religious gatherings for at least a month as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Elgon Region Police Spokesperson, Mr Rogers Taitika confirmed the arrest, saying the suspects are currently detained at Mbale Central Police Station as investigations go on.

"We got the information that pastor and his followers were in church. When we rushed there we found him preaching," Mr Taitika said, adding that although police tried to stop him against preaching he still went ahead.

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Mr Taitika warned religious leaders against defying the President’s directive on gatherings.

"I encourage local leaders to partner with security and health team to ensure that People are sensitized about Coronavirus and those who are not complying to the directive we are ready to deal with them," said Mr Taitika.

However, the pastor insisted that he had not committed any offence since they were few in number and were praying to God over Coronavirus.

As he banned religious gatherings, President Museveni advised religious leaders to instead use broadcast or electronic media to continue with their work, an option some have already heeded to.
Relatedly, about 50 people were also arrested by a joint security team in Mbale District for allegedly for operating bars despite the one month ban.

The suspects are bar owners, managers, staff and clients who were found in drinking in the joints.
The operation was carried out in about 10 Sub Counties
As of March 30, 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Uganda stands at 33.

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