Stop beating Ugandans, Kyambadde tells security personnel

Thursday March 26 2020
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This photo taken on March 26, 2020 shows a vendor reacting after she was beaten up by a Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel downtown Kampala as they enforced President Museveni's directives in a bid to forestall the spread of coronavirus. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde on Thursday said government was concerned about the way police and other sister security agencies had started treating Ugandans following President Museveni’s suspension of public transport and non-food markets in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

According to the minister, security agencies had misinterpreted the president’s directive.

“Why are you beating citizens? This goes to especially LDUs. If you find them (people) standing doing nothing, please explain to them. Maybe if they turn rowdy; you know some Ugandans behave. But don't beat. Enforcement does not mean beating,” Ms Kyambadde said while addressing journalists in Kampala on Thursday.

Her statement came after videos and photos showing police and soldiers flogging Ugandans forcing them back to their homes in a bid to enforce President Museveni’s directive, went viral on internet.

Some security agencies were seen closing shops, salons and other businesses and dispersing people.

“There has been a misinterpretation of directives. I have been told that restaurants, arcades, salons, shops, supermarkets are being closed. That's wrong. They should continue to operate as long as they are not in food markets. However, periodic markets that happen weekly are suspended. The exception is for those selling foodstuffs,” she said.

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Police arrest some of the boda boda cyclists who were found transporting passengers in Kampala on Thursday. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

According to her, police are not supposed to close alcohol depots, distribution centers or shops like they had started doing on Thursday.

“Bars are the ones that should close because that is where people converge. We have no problem with people buying alcohol and taking it with them to their homes,” she said.

“Government is concerned about the cost of utilities, especially water and is considering reviewing the rates and also look at the supply system so that we are able to afford it,” the minister added.

She also encouraged Ugandans to maintain hygiene by washing hands frequently, keep a social distance and sanitising to help prevent the spread of coronavirus which has already infected 14 people in Uganda.

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