KAMPALA – Mr James Akena, a photojournalist with Reuters, is now confined in a wheelchair following brutality at the hands of soldiers during last year’s protest in Kampala.
“Finally their brutality last August lands me on a wheelchair,” Akena wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday, October 03, 2019.
While covering protests against the arrest and detention of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu alias Bobi Wine on August 20, 2018, Akena was clobbered by soldiers in Kiseka Market.
A video showing the brutality was captured on TV, attracting local and global condemnation. President Yoweri Museveni, later on, said that when he sought for an explanation from the army, he was told that Akena had been beaten because the soldiers mistook him to be a camera thief because he couldn’t easily be identified as a journalist.
Akena has now filed an application before the Civil Division of the High court through his lawyers of AF Mpanga seeking damages to the tune of Shs100 million. According to Akena, a group of soldiers descended on him and started battering him. He explains that the soldiers assaulted him, forcefully confiscated his camera and took Shs3.9 million that he had in his pocket.
“The plaintiff (Akena) was repeatedly struck on various parts of his body by the three men, arrested, rough bundled onto a truck which drove the plaintiff and others to Qualicel Bus Terminal while they continued to be assaulted physically and verbally,” reads the application.
He notes that he was taken to Kampala central police station cells for about five hours and was released following the intervention of Luke Owoyesigyire, the then Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson currently deputy spokesperson.
According to the breakdown, Akena wants Shs3.9 million for lost cash, Shs 450,000 for his damaged Casio watch, Shs800,000 for broken eyeglasses and Shs1.2 million for a cracked Techno smartphone.
He also wants Shs28 million ($7500) for loss of Canon Camera DX Black Body type, Shs700,000 for medical treatment, Shs600,000 for transport to and from hospitals, loss of earnings because of failure to work from the months of September 2018 to February 2019 valued at $2,900 per month – totaling to Shs65 million.