There was drama in Buganda Road Grade One Magistrate court this afternoon when Makerere University research fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi appeared for the formal charges to be read for her.
The Buganda Road Grade One magistrate, Ester Nahilya read out charges of offensive communication and cyber harassment against Nyanzi.
Prosecution told court that on September 16, 2018 while in Kampala district or there about, Nyanzi used a computer to post on her Facebook page in the name of 'Stella Nyanzi with suggestions or proposals among others that "she wished HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni's mother Esteri Kokundeka's cursed vaginal canal had burnt up on his unborn fetus."
Prosecution also alleges that on September 19, 2018 Nyanzi wilfully and repeatedly used electronic communication to post messages offensive in nature via Facebook transmitted over the internet to disturb or attempted to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of President Museveni with no purpose of legitimate communication.
The magistrate asked Nyanzi who was driven to court in a saloon car whether she had understood the charges read to her in English. In her response, Nyanzi said she hadn't understood the charges and asked they be read in Luganda, her mother tongue.
As a result, Nahilya asked the interpreter to translate the charges in Luganda. No sooner had the interpreter started, than Nyanzi interjected, saying words such as "vaginal canals" should be interpreted clearly so that she gets to know whether they are talking about the vagina that produces children or something else.
The magistrate angrily asked Nyanzi in vain to keep quiet as the interpreter goes about his work. Nyanzi said she has written several times about the vagina and President Museveni, but she doesn't remember writing about the vagina of Museveni's mother Esteri Konkundeka.
The suspect who spoke in Luganda uttered several obscenities in Luganda sending the fully packed court into endless laughter.
Nyanzi's behaviour angered the magistrate prompting her to direct his lawyer, Isaac Semakadde to calm her down. Semakadde asked the magistrate to tolerate the behaviour of his client, saying he didn't have powers to calm her down. However, the magistrate shot back, saying it was Semakadde's responsibility to calm down his client.
Nyanzi explained that the reason she was behaving that way was to protest being locked up at the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Kireka for five days without being charged. Nahilya who looked confused by Nyanzi's actions didn't allow her to plead to the charges and remanded her to Luzira prisons until November 9, when she will return to enter her plea.
Nyanzi was arrested from Wandegeya police station last week on Friday where she'd gone to secure state protection during her protest march to Makerere University over salaries owed to her. This is not the first time Nyanzi is in trouble for offensive communication and cyber harassment. In 2016, Nyanzi was picked up when she published a post on her Facebook page describing President Museveni as 'a pair of buttocks'.
She denied the charges when she appeared in court. As a result, prosecution sought orders to subject her to a mental health check, saying her actions were surprising and inhumane. However, Nyanzi secured a court injunction through her lawyers of Centre for Legal Aid blocking the mental examination.
Nyanzi is also remembered for staging a nude protest at Makerere University following her suspension by Prof Mahmood Mamdan, the director of Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) for refusing to teach. She was suspended by Makerere University management to pave way for investigations.
Last month, the Makerere University tribunal ordered the university management to reinstate Nyanzi and pay her salaries. However, the order is yet to be implemented. Nyanzi's lawyer has sued Makerere University for failing to reinstate and compensate her.