What you need to know:
- Mr Robert Ssempala, the executive director of Uganda Human Rights Network for Journalists [UHRNJ], urged the Police to be professional when handling Ms Nabatanzi’s matter.
A journalist attached to Kiira FM in Jinja City has been arrested in connection to last month’s murder of a businessman, while several other scribes are being sought as persons of interest.
Ms Jackie Nabatanzi was at around 3pm on Saturday arrested as she covered the Uganda National Agricultural Education Show at Jinja Showground, and immediately taken into custody at Nalufenya Police Station where she was still being detained by press time.
Ms Nabatanzi’s arrest comes after Jinja businessman, Shaban Malole, was on the night of May 14 shot dead by unknown assailants who were travelling on a motorcycle.
The deceased, a resident of Buwera East, Buwenge Rural Sub-county in Jinja District, was at the centre of a 900-acre family land wrangle belonging to the estate of his late father, Hajji Sulaiman Malole, located at Kituba Village, Kisozi Sub-county, Kamuli District.
Until his death, Mr Malole was in support of his family’s efforts to lease the land to an investor for 40 years to construct a sugar factory, a move his siblings said was aimed at locking them out of their father’s estate.
The Kiira region Police Spokesperson, Mr James Mubi, in the aftermath of the shooting, said the deceased was attacked at his home, shot at by unidentified gunmen who were reportedly traveling on motorcycle and died on the spot.
Over 10 people have since been arrested, including family members and residents, and are being detained in Kampala and Nalufenya.
Ms Milly Tibigwayo, who works with Apex FM, and was with Ms Nabatanzi at the time of her arrest, said Ms Nabatanzi received a call in the middle of a press conference at one of the stalls within the showground, and excused herself.
“Immediately after she stepped out, she was surrounded by Policemen who accused her of being in possession of a stolen phone and whisked her to Nalufenya Police Station, initially on that charge.
“But at the Police Station, the story changed to using her phone to call somebody who was eventually shot dead. Police said they believe she was the last person who called the deceased,” Ms Tibigwayo said.
However, Ms Nabatanzi, according to Ms Tibigwayo, maintains her innocence, saying a colleague from Baba FM used her phone to place the call to the deceased after he reportedly ran out of airtime.
Mr Abbey Mwase, a councilor for Jinja City Southern Division and chairperson of Jinja Tenants’ Association, was detained a week earlier as another person of interest in the gruesome murder.
For his part, Mr Mwase is being accused of hiring the car that transported the journalists to the deceased’s Village on that fateful day, prior to a meeting the following day to solve the family impasse over land.
Asked why Ms Nabatanzi is being detained at Nalufenya Police Station, Mr Mubi asked: “What is wrong?” He then declined to further comment on the matter.
Calls, especially from the media fraternity in Jinja, to have Ms Nabatanzi, who is said to be seven months pregnant, released are gaining momentum, with journalists vowing to storm Nalufenya Police Station to demand for her unconditional release.
Mr Robert Ssempala, the executive director of Uganda Human Rights Network for Journalists [UHRNJ], urged the Police to be professional when handling Ms Nabatanzi’s matter.
“When Police are doing their investigations, they should be professional and also consider the fact that journalists can talk to people and what happens in their professional life should not be linked to what happens in their sources’ lives,” he said. By Philip Wafula, Daily Monitor