Uganda: Lockdown - Nateete Court Starts Online Hearings

By Anthony Wesaka

Nateete Court in Kampala will hold sessions through video conferencing following the suspension of physical hearings for 42 days.

To that effect, last Friday, Magistrate Timothy Lumunye handled 30 case files that included capital and minor offences.

The mini session saw 15 inmates plead guilty to minor offences by way of plea bargain. This saw some of them handed short jail sentences of up to two years and in some scenarios, fines were imposed or both.

One of the cases that was heard included that of Musisi Wasswa Mulongo, 20, who was battling charges of breaking into a shop and stealing four crates of beer in Nalukolongo. He was sentenced to six months.

The other case involved Hassan Sekaya, who was battling assault charges, and Matrico Kambale, who was facing charges of torturing his child.

It was alleged that on March 2, in Kabusu, Rubaga Division, a Kampala suburb, Sekaya assaulted Jona Kyewalabye.

Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo last week suspended all court hearings and appearances for the next 42 days in line with

President Museveni's earlier new measures to combat Covid-19.

However, he allowed very urgent cases such as land/ house evictions involving many people to be heard but in open court halls and use of video conferencing.

"Whenever practical, virtual hearing of cases should be adhered to, including insisting on written submissions, use of e-mail, online delivery of judgments and audio-visual hearings and other modes of contactless communication," read in part the Judiciary statement released last week.

It added: "The heads of courts and departments should immediately work out a duty rota by which staff shall work in rotation until further directions are issued. For the courts, the duty rota must include a judicial officer and very essential support staff."

Last Sunday, President Museveni issued 33 new measures aimed at curbing the rising Covid-19 cases in the country.

Among them are the closure of all learning institutions and churches for the next 42 days, and banning of inter district movements.

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