Wednesday 14 September 2016

Kabarole police-civilians clash exposes Uganda's media

After reading several media versions about some officers of Uganda Police clashing with locals in Bukara, Kabarole district I'm wondering if editors are doing enough; putting their reporters to task.

First Bukara village is about 40km from Fort Portal town, where the headquarters of Kabarole district are located. Fort Portal town is 320km from Kampala, Uganda's capital.

That a newspaper or media house for that matter fails to send a reporter to the ground to gather facts, but instead relies on telephone interviews with officials in police and other government agents, is appalling. This is because Fort Portal being a major town it has representatives of most major media houses in Uganda.

The clash between police and some residents of Bukara occurred at 1pm on September 14. Why would a media house worth its name fail to send its reporters to a conflict area that is just 40km from Fort Portal town?

Why is the media rushing to brand the clash between police and some Bukara residents an ethnic conflict? It is because they are not on the ground. If the reporters were on ground they did little to source the story and only relied on the official account.

Social media reporters who always copy and paste mainstream media reports are not doing any better.

Basing on what I have gathered from the ground, this is what happened:
A man (whom I will call X) caught his wife in bed with another man (let's call him Y). The two men happen to be of different ethnic backgrounds.
The matter was reported to the area police post in Nyakigumba which is 10km from Bukara village. The suspect (Y) was later released and went to a bigger police station at Kibiito, the headquarter of Bunyangabu county, to report that he was assaulted and tortured by Mr X.

On September 13, Kibiito sent police officers to arrest Mr X to answer charges of assault. The villagers were enraged and resisted this arrest. They even assaulted the police officers, which is another offence.

In the afternoon of September 14, a group of seven police officers arrived in Bukara village to arrest Mr X and those who assaulted the police officers the previous day.

Unfortunately the villagers ended up attacking the police officers. This is wrong. I think it's plain ignorance and stupidity to attack people in authority or even resist arrest.

There might be mistakes on either side, which should be corrected. But I don't understand why the media is calling this clash between police and civilians, ethnic? How many people have been killed on the different ethnicity?
The dead are police officers and people who speak the same language of Mr X.

The deployment of police and army in the area was good thing. Today the  security officials and local politicians are meeting the residents of Bukara to calm down and resolve the situation.
May peace and the spirit of tolerance prevail.


  1. Thats how things are done now days in most media houses and making it worse is the social media reports here n there with no clear facts to the matter. But still poor facilitation on the side of reporters as cost-cutting measures are always put in place making field facilitation a victim to reduced spending hence the poorly reported stories.

    1. Thank you for reading and your comment. I think as journalists we need to pause and reflect on the kind journalism we want to be known for.

  2. Thumbs up Mubatsi. You are spot on. Very good article. It'd be fine if media houses could shut up whenever they have no facts.

    1. Thank you for taking your time to read and comment. Hopefully we can learn a thing or two from this.