Court declines to drop Mak don’s assault case

A screenshot of Prof Bernard Wandera at the Buganda Road court in December 2022. PHOTO/ NMG

What you need to know:

  • Prosecution alleges that on November 17 at Makerere University, Prof Wandera assaulted two students thereby causing them actual bodily harm.

Court yesterday declined to dismiss an assault case against a Makerere University professor who was filmed slapping a student in a lecture room.

Prof Benard Wandera, 57, a lecturer in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at Makerere’s School of Social Sciences, is facing two charges of assault.

Despite pleas by Prof Wandera’s lawyer to have the case dismissed on account of the two parties reconciling, Grade One Magistrate Fidelis Otwoa instead forwarded the file for reconciliation, which, he said, was a requirement by law.

“This court is persuaded with the submission of the counsel for the accused that indeed he is charged with an offence described as misdemeanour under Section 160 of the Magistrate Act. Under the reconciliation rules 2011 where the parties express the desire to reconcile, the court shall avail the parties with a conciliator, “ Mr Otwoa ruled.

“Therefore, this file has been forwarded to a conciliator and proceedings in this matter have been stayed. This court shall appoint Ms Brenda Nakibira and should contact the court within a period of two weeks with a report and in case the parties are not comfortable they can provide a conciliator of their choice,” he added.

Magistrate Otwoa further explained that in case reconciliation fails, the conciliator will inform court to go ahead with the hearing of the case.

The trial magistrate adjourned the case to February 23 for mention as court awaits a report from the conciliator.

Through his lawyer, Mr Derrick Bazekuketta, court heard that under Article 160 of the Magistrate Court Act provides for reconciliation to also facilitate the settlement of criminal cases such as assault in an amicable way.

“Reconciliation in such cases was already pronounced by the High Court and the accused person is facing two charges of assault occasioning to actual bodily harm which falls under the ambit of Section 160 and are reconcilable,” Mr Bazekuketta said 

“In the premises we pray that you be persuaded to find and hold that the charges fall under the ambit of reconciliation and since the accused person and the alleged victims have already reconciled,” he added.

In the previous hearing of the case, prosecution led by Ms Joan Keko told court that she had referred the two students seeking reconciliation with Prof Wandera to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who referred the case back to court for handling.

“This is a case of public nature and the DPP in her wisdom guided that the matter be handled in court,” Ms Keko submitted.

Prosecution alleges that on November 17, at Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching facility lecture room at Makerere University, Prof Wandera assaulted the two students thereby causing them actual bodily harm.

A video clip that circulated across social media platforms appears to show Mr Wandera slapping Patricia Alkoro before he ordered her out of the lecture room. On November 19, Makerere University administration interrupted Prof Wandera from carrying out his activities to pave the way for investigations into his conduct.