The Kabale District Chairperson, Patrick Besigye Keihwa is on the spot for allegedly slapping a journalist working with the Kabale based Voice of Kigezi radio.
Mr Keihwa allegedly slapped the journalist, Mr Emmanuel Arinitwe on the June 25 at the Voice of Kigezi offices in Kabale municipality.
Arinitwe narrated that the genesis of the assault arose from a story he had earlier covered during a District Council meeting where the district councilors tasked Keihwa to explain what actions he had taken against the former Acting District Engineer, James Kiganda.
An investigation by district officials had discovered that Mr. Kiganda James embezzled about Shs 40 million (over USD 10,000) that was meant for the construction of 4 roads within the district.
When Mr. Kiganda was invited to appear before the council to explain the circumstances under which the said money had disappeared, he snubbed the summons. This prompted the Council to task the District Chairperson to initiate plans of recovering the money and ensuring that appropriate disciplinary and legal action is taken against Mr. Kiganda.
“At 8:30pm while I was in the studio, Mr. Keihwa stormed the studio and started ranting while hurling insults at me. ‘Why do you want to broadcast such a story, are you working with my political opponents to ruin my reputation?’ he said to me,” Arinitwe told the Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda (HRNJ-U).
He says Keihwa threatened to have him dismissed from his job.
It is understood that Keihwa is also a shareholder in the company that broadcasts as Voice of Kigezi.
Samuel Amanya, one of the journalists who witnessed the assault said that Mr. Keihwa insulted Mr. Arinitwe in vulgar Rukiga words and slapped him a couple of times, before threatening to have him sacked from his job.
Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) Executive Director, Robert Ssempala told SoftPower News that the incident is so unfortunate and undermines efforts to do away with violence against journalists while they carry out their duties.
“This unfortunate incident continues to mirror the numerous human rights violations in the form of intimidation, harassment and violence that media practitioners experience in their line of work that adversely continues to undermine the freedom of expression and media,” Ssempala said.
He added that the media being the mouth piece of the community needs to be supported in its quest for the truth and accountability as a voice for the masses as opposed to being intimidated in a bid to suppress the truth.