Police besiege city court

Security personnel at the Kasangati Magistrate Court yesterday. Photo by Stephen Otage

In a scene reminiscent of the November 16, 2005, siege of the High Court by shadowy outfit ‘the Black Mambas’, security personnel yesterday besieged the Kasangati Magistrate Court in an attempt to re-arrest three walk-to-work protest suspects.

Opposition politicians at the court hustled with the operatives to secure safe passage for Moses Byamugisha, Julius Amanya and Fred Kato, moments after Magistrate Lutalo Bbosa announced they had been released on bail until o October 28.

As the suspects signed bail papers with lawyer Mr Joshua Byabashaija, security personnel took positions within the court premises. A scuffle ensued with Rukungiri Municipality MP Roland Kaginda and Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso attempting to herd away the operatives.

“We are back to the days of Black Mamba,” screamed Alaso as she alighted from her car.

“The courts of law have granted these people bail and you don’t even have modest respect for the court. You are still within the precincts of the court at least produce an arrest warrant and we hand them back to you freely,” she said.

“Why don’t you give Ugandans a break? You frame them, you arrest them and then when the court has granted them bail you want to re-arrest them. You are shameless that you don’t even have respect for your own systems.”

No shame?
The operatives later left the court premises but took strategic positions outside the fence and on the main road.
Police pick-ups were positioned at the gate, on the main road and behind the court premises. The infamous police van used to transport FDC leader Kizza Besigye (UP 1928) was also present.

An operative clad in a Green T-shirt and combat pants with a pistol strapped on his thigh, commanded the operation. Court and prison officials left the court compound as tensions escalated.

Sensing that leaving the court would be difficult, FDC officials called for reinforcements. Soon, Major John Kazoora, the FDC secretary for Security, former Army Commander Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi and Rukiga MP Jack Sabiiti arrived in four cars.

The suspects were later driven out in Mr Mafabi’s official car followed by convoy of party officials to Kampala Hospital in Kololo to be treated for injuries they sustained during the Tuesday arrest.

Incidentally, this is the same court where Dr Besigye has filed a case challenging police actions in confining him to his Kasangati home since Tuesday. Police said Dr Besigye has been placed under preventive arrest although his lawyers say he is under an illegal house arrest.

Dr Besigye has since said the army was deployed at his home on Wednesday night. He said security barred him from receiving food he had sent for from Kampala.

“Maybe their intention is to starve me and my household to death,” he told journalists, calling on human rights organisations to take up the matter.