10 May 2017

Uganda: 33 Days Later - Stella Nyanzi Granted Bail

Photo: Nicholas Bamulanzeki/Observer
The court room was packed during Dr Stella Nyanzi's appearance this morning. Nyanzi was freed on bail.

After 33 days in detention, Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi has been granted bail by Buganda Road Magistrates court.

The controversial researcher was arrested last month on April 7, from Mackinnon Suites Hotel in Kampala, where, she had just finished addressing a Kampala Metropolitan Rotary fellowship. She was subsequently remanded to Luzira prison.

Court granted the frail-looking Nyanzi a Shs 10 million (non-cash) bail and asked her to deposit her passport. Prisons officials said she had even collapsed today morning due to severe malaria. In fact she was seated in the dock all through during court proceedings.

Her five sureties were also granted Shs 10 million (non-cash) bond each.

The sureties include her sister, Sheila B Nyanzi, a friend Nalongo Namata Annet, Dr Moses Khisa, a Political Science don at North Western University USA, activist Solome Nakaweesi Kayondo and Human rights activist Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala.

Nyanzi is charged with two counts of cyber harassment and offensive communication contrary to provisions of the Computer Misuse Act. Nyanzi was also charged with using the internet to disturb the peace and right to privacy of the president.

Prosecution alleges that Stella Nyanzi used her social media pages to refer to President Yoweri Museveni as "a pair of buttocks." She denied the charges but told court that she always writes 'metaphorically' to deliver messages to 'those in power'.

She is accused of insulting President Museveni on social media (facebook), who, she accuses of failing to honour his 2015 campaign pledge of providing sanitary towels to school girls once reelected back in office.

Today, Justice Ereemye Mawanda granted Nyanzi her temporary freedom and is expected to reappear in court on May 25 for the continuation of the State's application to have her mental status examined.

In reference to her alleged vulgar and erotic posts, prosecutor Jonathan Muwaganya filed an application on April 10, asking court to order that Nyanzi be subjected to a psychiatric examination.

Muwaganya told court that Nyanzi has a history of erratic psychiatric disorder and was once a patient at Butabika mental referral hospital. The application was based on the affidavit by SP Mboniva Emmanuel, one of the police officers investigating Nyanzi's case.

Today, Muwaganya had argued against her bail application saying that Nyanzi should not be released before determination of her mental status.

Muwaganya added that Nyanzi should be stopped from making any cyber-attack or derogatory statement against the president and his immediate relatives. He also asked court Stella to refrain from discussing the case in court.

But defence lawyer Nicholas Opiyo told court that they need time to discuss details of the mental health application before submitting detailed arguments against it and that can only happen when she is granted bail.

Opiyo also protested the bail conditions arguing that such terms violate her freedom of expression. He prayed for lenient bail terms in consideration of her health condition.

Before court proceedings, a group of Makerere university human rights students were arrested protesting Nyanzi's prosecution. Four students were arrested and are currently detained at Kampala Central police station, located near Buganda Road Chief Magistrate court.

More on This

Dr Stella Nyanzi Released on Bail

Dr Stella Nyanzi, a Makerere University research fellow charged with cyber related crimes has been released on… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.