The family of detained talkshow host, Robert Kalundi Serumaga, has held a news conference in Kampala condeming his arrest last night.
Sarah Nsigaye, Serumagga's wife, told the media at the Uganda Journalist Association offices, that she is saddened by the turn of events. She said she was a long-time supporter of President Yoweri Museveni, but considering the events of the past few days and the crackdown on the media, she is greatly letdown.
Nsigaye, a journalist herself, said Kalundi Serumaga is a good father and a responsible citizen, who did not deserve to be picked up at night and arrested arbitrarily.
Mary Ikazai, a friend to Serumagga who witnessed his arrest, said the he was knocked unconscious by plain clothed security men. She said that before anyone could come to his rescue, Serumagga was bundled into the boot of a dark colored Toyota Carib car and sped away.
Robert Kalundi Serumagga is a fierce Museveni critic. During the WBS TV show, Kibazo on Friday, he made several statements likening President Museveni to former President Idi Amin Dada. He said that like Amin, Museveni's leadership shortcomings could be traced to his alleged poor upbringing.
Serumagga has openly attacked Mr. Museveni's government in the past and some media observers say that given the current political climate in Uganda, his arrest was not totally unexpected.
Kalundi Serumagga is best known for his work as a show host for Radio One's popular talkshow, Spectrum. He is a former manager of the National Theatre and currently runs his own film and cultural center. He is also an occasional columnist for various newspapers in East Africa.
Serumagga's wife, Sarah Nsigaye, said it is hard for his family not to draw parallel's between his arrest and the arrest of his father Robert Serumagga in 1979.
Robert Serumagga Senior was renowned as a playwright and novelist. He was arrested by former President Idi Amin's soldiers in 1979 for attempting to overthrow the government. He was not seen alive again. His body was later found dumped in Nakasongola.
Mary Serumagga, Kalundi's sister, told the news conference that attempts to find her brother failed last night. She said that when his family went to the Kampala Central Police Station to trace him, they were scoffed at.
Mary Serumagga said she intended to appeal directly to President Museveni to release her brother without further injury. She said that since on several occasions the President has preached peace, he should practice it by letting her brother go free.
Kalundi Serumagga's brother, Kizito, also attended the news conference, but did not issue his own statement.
The news conference was represented by the Network for Human Rights Journalists. Sebaggala Wakubira, chairperson of the network, said Serumagga's case is just one of many cases of harassment of the media reported this week.
Wakubira said that more than a dozen journalists who have covered Kabaka Mutebi's planned trip to Kayunga, are on the run. He said some of the journalists are afraid to return home to Kampala for fear of arrest.
Joshua Kyalimpa, who represented the Article 29 Coalition that lobby's for resepct of personal freedoms, said one journalist, Moses Leniza is hopsitalized for injuries suffered at the hands of the police while he covered the riots. Other journalists beaten by the police are Paddy Musobya, Josephat Seguya and Joseph Mutebi, all of Bukedde newspaper. Joshua Kisawuzi of NTV Uganda, Charles Mwanguhya, Tabu Butagira and Dan Wanyama of the Daily Monitor, were also roughed up by the police.
Kyalimpa called on the government to respect the media's freedom to report on issues unfolding in the country. He however cautioned journalists to stick to reporting the facts.
article 29 coalition