Pastor Yiga remanded to prison for spreading harmful propaganda

Monday March 30 2020
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Pastor Augustine Yiga of Revival Church Kawaala in the dock at Mwanga II Magistrate's Court on March 30, 2020. PHOTOS BY DAVID LUBOWA

Pastor Augustine Yiga of Revival Church Kawaala has been remanded to prison by Mwanga II Magistrate's Court where he appeared and was charged for allegedly doing an act likely to spread coronavirus.
Pastor Yiga on Monday appeared before grade one magistrate, Mr Timothy Lumunye and denied the charge against him.

Prosecution led by Ms Safina Bireeke claims that Pastor Yiga on March 27, 2020 at Revival Christian Church Kawaala in Rubaga Division before BBS television, Spark TV, NBS TV and Sanyuka TV cameras said: "There is no Corona virus in Uganda and Africa" knowing or having reason to believe that it is likely to spread COVID-19.
After denying the charges before court, Pastor Yiga, through his lawyer, Wilberforce Kayiwa, tried to apply for bail on grounds that he is diabetic and has to see his doctor regularly. He also told court that he has eight children to look after and that he is a pastor.

However, Ms Bireeke protested his bail application on grounds he did not present any medical documents to back up his claims.
Prosecution further observed that Yiga’s sureties (junior pastors) were not substantial enough for him to be released on bail.

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“Police needs more time to carry out investigations,” Ms Bireeke added.
The magistrate remanded the pastor to Kitalya prison until April 4.
According to the magistrate, the pastor’s followers had not observed guidelines of social distancing as one of the measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The magistrate said he would give his ruling on Pastor Yiga’s bail application when his followers learn to observe social distancing.

Pastor Yiga was arrested on Saturday for allegedly uttering false information and spreading harmful propaganda in relation to the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Patrick Onyango told journalists that Pastor Yiga’s utterances undermine government efforts in fighting the pandemic and exposes the public to dangers of laxity in observing the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health on its control and prevention.
Mr Onyango added that Yiga’s action is considered as a direct attack on the people of Uganda.