By Jane Nambi
Police has paid sh6m to compensate the broken equipment of journalists which the police officers damaged.
A total amount of sh6.3m has been given to a cameraman affiliated to WBS television whose two video cameras were damaged as he was covering the Kampala Mayoral elections and the lunch by top opposition leader, Besigye in Owino market.
William Ntege aka Kyuumakyayesu, a freelance journalist but attached to WBS television received the money from deputy police speaker, Judith Nabakooba.
After countless apologies for brutalizing journalists in the course of doing their work, the Uganda Police has moved to compensate journalists for equipment damaged by its officers. His first camera was damaged last year as he was covering the Kampala Mayoral campaigns at Nakulabye, where plain-clothed security operatives attacked him and vandalized his camera estimated at Shs 4.5m and took away his Shs 100,000. “They hit the camera with pistols; later I fell down breaking it,” he said.
He was detained at Old Kampala Police station for a suspected traffic offense before he was released after spending a night in custody for the particular incident. He later reported the case of assault, malicious damage and theft of property at the CPS.
His new camera did survive the police brutality for long, damaged in April 2012 as he covered Dr Besigye and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago having lunch in St Balikuddembe market.
He hid behind the police vehicle to take the footage but upon being seen, CPS Division Commander James Ruhweza asked police officers to get to him and they cruelly pulled him off the police vehicle. In the process, his camera rolled on the ground and stopped functioning. Both cameras are in police custody.
On Saturday June 30, 2012, he was called by Nabakooba to ask for the value of the cameras, before she later gave him the money. Ntege however says Police and security agencies need to do move beyond the compensation and apologize and penalize their errant officers. “Will they keep beating us, spoil our cameras and then compensate us using taxpayer’s money?”