Fred Waninda, the Commercial Court Acting Registrar in charge of Planning, Performance and Development is under the spotlight for slapping a journalist at the court premises and destroyed his camera.
According to Eric Yiga, a reporter with Salt Media, the incident happened on Wednesday when journalists went to cover a case where Waninda who was once a family lawyer is accused of forging an agreement with an aim of grabbing land belonging to Charles Mulindwa, a resident of Buguju in Mukono district.
“When court proceedings ended, we run out of court to record the complainants getting out but in the process, Waninda’s lawyer, asked if we were journalists but as we showed him our identity cards, Waninda slapped Hannington Kisakye from Smart 24 Television and his camera fell down .The lens broke,”Yiga told the Nile Post.
“A scuffle ensued as other court users demanded to know why Waninda had beaten my colleague. In the resulting melee, he beat me up and it took the intervention of Counter Terrorism Unit police officers to whisk him away.”
A video recording by Kisakye’s camera before it was broken shows Waninda biting his teeth as he swung a slap that hit the journalist.
The recording could later be seen shaking.
Yiga says they were later advised to report the matter to the Central Police Station in Kampala in whose jurisdiction the Commercial Court falls but they got no help as police officers declined to record the statement.
“The OC CID told us he could not help but asked us to write to the inspector of courts to have him (Waninda) disciplined,”Yiga adds.
Meanwhile, Journalists under their umbrella body, the Uganda Journalists Association say they have finalized plans to take legal action against the judicial officer for his conduct towards one of their members.
We have seen media reports of an altercation between some journalists and our Deputy Registrar. @JudiciaryUG is closely working with @PoliceUg and the complainants to establish the facts. Findings will guide the action to be taken. pic.twitter.com/HE5ktV8hZP
— Judiciary Uganda (@JudiciaryUG) April 27, 2019
“We have instructed our team of lawyers from Kiiza and Mugisha Company Advocates to file a suit against Waninda as a deterrent measure against any further human rights violations to journalists,” said UJA secretary for Information, Ronald Kabuye.
When contacted on the behavior of one of their officers, the judiciary spokesperson, Solomon Muyita said the law should take its course in the matter.
“If anyone has been assaulted by anyone, including Judiciary staff, that is a police case. The matter should be properly reported and the police should be in position to conduct its investigations,”Muyita told the Nile Post.
“Once there’s adequate evidence, then the law shall take its course. Any action by the Judiciary certainly has to be guided by the outcome of police investigations.”
Later, the judiciary posted on their twitter handle saying they are working closely with police and the complainant to establish the facts.
“Findings will guide the action to be taken.”
When contacted for his side of the story, Waninda who first feigned ignorance by asking the names of the affected journalists and the court where it happened asked to meet our reporter to look through “a few things.”
“Why can’t we meet up on Monday with some documents and we sort out a few things,”Waninda said.
However, when the Nile Post insisted on getting the comment before Monday, the acting registrar said he could us back.
“Let me get back to you shortly because I am driving.”