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UCC warns media houses on hosting witchdoctors

The Commission has told all broadcasters countrywide to comply with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards and the applicable laws of Uganda. (PHOTO/FILE)

KAMPALA – Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a warning to all media houses to desist from hosting witch doctors who the regulator described as promoters of witchcraft practice.

UCC accuses traditional healers of concocting stories with the aim of confusing listeners about their purported potential to create wealth or to cure several illnesses including AIDS.

“Section 2 of the Witchcraft Act Cap 124, prohibits the practices of witchcraft and a person who holds himself or herself out as a witch, whether on one or more occasions, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years,” the regulator noted in a fresh directive.

The Commission last year also summoned and held hearings over content related to advertising and promoting witchcraft before it briefly suspended five local FM stations including Apex FM, Metro FM, Fufa FM and Dembe FM and state broadcaster Star FM.

UCC noted the summons followed a monitoring and investigation exercise by the after it was found that broadcasters were advertising and promoting witchcraft contrary to Section 2 of the Witchcraft Act (Cap 124).

At the hearing, UCC noted, audio recordings of conmen or purported witchcraft practitioners were played, and the broadcasters tasked to explain their contents which are deemed as aiding and abetting electronic fraud contrary to sections 19 and 21 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.

In what appears to be organised crime, one of the recordings bears a voice of a purported witchdoctor called Nalongo Bafuna who shares her telephone contacts on air and calls upon listeners to send to her mobile money and expect quicker and bigger returns from the ancestral spirits “emisambwa”.

In one particular incident, UCC noted that a complainant from Buikwe District was conned of UGX1400,00 that was sent through mobile money to a purported traditional healer that advertised her services on Apex FM in return for quick fortunes and good luck.

The Complainant reported the matter to Police and the Commission for action.

The regulator directed the said broadcasters to make undertaking not to air the said content again and ordered the said broadcasters to refund all the victims’ money within a minimum of 10 working days.

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