HOW MOB SEIGED COURT
BY DAILY MONITOR
An angry mob protesting the trial of the Inspector General of
Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, yesterday laid a siege on Makindye
Magistrate’s Court baying for the blood of the lawyers and other
people who took the police boss to court on accusations of torture
General Kayihura together with other senior police commanders and
officers were expected to appear in court yesterday to answer the
charges but none showed up and no explanation was given either.
The court siege lasted more than three hours with the lawyers and
other human rights activists seeking refuge in the chief magistrate’s
chambers. It was reminiscent of the infamous Black Mamba invasion of
the High Court when armed security operatives stormed its premises in
Kampala on March 1, 2007, to re-arrest five treason suspects who had
been released on bail.
Opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, had promised to attend the criminal
proceedings against Kayihura at court yesterday but sources close to
him said he withdrew at the last hour to avert possible clashes
between his supporters and the security personnel.
It all started as a peaceful protest with hundreds of Gen Kayihura’s
supporters submitting to security checks and holding their placards
written in similar handwriting with messages expressing solidarity
with the police boss.
“Police needs justice not injustice” read one placard “Silent majority
stands with the Police,” read another.
As time passed by, the mob grew bigger and so was their aggression
against any person suspected to support the Kayihura prosecution.
Police commanded by the recently appointed Kampala Metropolitan Police
Commander Frank Mwesigwa and his deputy Ezekiel Emitu looked on as the
pro-Kayihura rioters, some of whom had kept an overnight vigil at the
court tormented the judicial officials and those who had turned up to
witness the trial.
The demonstrators started making processions around the court
buildings and outside its fence singing songs of allegiance to
Soon after, a group, which was chanting “no court,” stormed the chief
magistrate’s chambers and blocked them, vowing to thwart any attempts
to start court proceedings. This raid lasted about 10 minutes before
police intervened and asked the pro-Kayihura mob to vacate the trial
Outside, the mob was growing impatient and agitated. They started
blocking roads leading to the court using logs. Police officers,
including Police traffic personnel, looked on as chaos ensued.
The goons proclaimed that Dr Besigye would not be allowed to come to
court. They denied access to any vehicle including those of the
The mob thoroughly checked all people leaving the court to prevent
Kampala Lord mayor Erias Lukwago and other prosecution lawyers from
Journalists were not spared either. The pro-Kayihura mob threatened to
beat any journalist for what they termed “biased coverage” against the
Police and their activities.
Joseph Mutebi, a journalist with one of the local dailies, was
assaulted by the mob.
First to leave was lawyer Emmanuel Chandia and his legal team which is
prosecuting Kayihura. The police formed a ring around them to help
them board the police vehicle. But the rioters taunted Mr Chandia and
his colleagues as his wheelchair was loaded into a waiting van.
Next to attempt an escape from the mob was lawyer Abdallah Kiwanuka
who was escorted by Police to his car parked outside the court
premises. Soon after entering his Toyota Prado car, the mob began
pelting it with stones and other objects.
He sped off through the mob as the rioters threw stones at his car
from both sides of the road.
The vehicle was damaged but Daily Monitor could not readily establish
whether he or the other occupants were injured in the assault.
Mr Kiwanuka is the same lawyer who was in 2013 brutalised by Police
and plain-clothed security operatives as he served the then Kampala
Minister Frank Tumwebaze with a court order stopping the botched
impeachment of Mr Lukwago as Kampala Lord Mayor.
Infuriated by Mr Kiwanuka’s escape, the pro-Kayihura rioters continued
to demand permission to punish Mr Lukwago and other lawyers who had
sought refuge in theMagistrate’s chambers.
Negotiations directly led by Mr Mwesigwa on the Police side and the
private prosecution lawyers on the other hand continued.
Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo asked police to create a safe
passage for them. He was shortly after driven out of the court
Mr Lukwago insisted that as an officer of the court, Police should
ensure his security to leave as a free man. Police then escorted him
out of the magistrate’s chambers thinking he was heading to his car.
He was instead taken to a waiting police pick up truck.
Mr Mwesigwa and his bodyguards overpowered the Lord Mayor and pushed
him into the police van which drove off, escorted by three police
mambas and two other vehicles amid shouts from the mob.
Several people and groups took to social media or issued statements
about the violence.
“If someone files a case against you that you believe to be foolish
and lacking in merit, don’t get a mob. Get a lawyer. They know what to
do,” lawyer David Mpanga who was one of the people caught up in the
2007 court siege tweeted.
Mr Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for
Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), said Kayihura’s failure to
appear before court casts doubt on whether he or the institution of
Police respect the judicial processes. “He has acted in contempt of
His actions are may be, reflective of what he thinks about the court,
the judicial system and the laws of Uganda. Unfortunately, one could
argue that he has acted in a way, which demonstrates that he, as an
individual is above the laws of Uga