Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Four local comedians commonly known by their stage name as Bizonto have been granted bail.
They were re-arrested on Friday on charges of promoting sectarianism and offensive communication.
The four; Julius Sserwanja, also known as Kidomoole, Mbabaali Maliseeri (Uncle Luyuguumo), Gold Ki Matono, also known as Opeto and Sssaabakaaki Peter (Omuzinyuuzi) were arrested from Radio Simba over a satirical skit which according to the government was used to promote sectarianism. Their counterpart was not found at the station at the time of their arrest.
On Friday afternoon, they appeared before Grade One Magistrate Asuman Muhumuza.
It is alleged that the comedians and others still at large within the district of Kampala made and published on different social media platforms videos containing information that is likely to incite discontent among citizens of Uganda against the Banyankole tribe. This was reportedly done by indicating that most of the leaders in Uganda are of the Banyankole tribe.
However, they denied the charges and through their lawyers led by Derrick Lutalo applied to be freed on bail pending disposal of the case against them.
The lawyers presented several sureties who included their friends, relatives and human rights defenders.
However in response, the prosecution led by Patricia Cingtho opposed the bail application saying the sureties presented did not have local council letters confirming their places of residence.
But in his ruling, the magistrate overruled the submissions of the prosecution saying the national identity cards produced by the sureties are more credible and binding documents.
He accordingly granted them bail of 100,000 shillings cash and their sureties were asked to execute a bail of 500,000 shillings, not cash.
The accused were ordered to reappear in court on April 8th 2021 for mention as inquiries continue.
They were first arrested in July last year after producing and circulating a skit titled “who are our leaders,” in which they mockingly prayed for Uganda’s top leaders. The seven-minute skit which was uploaded on July 15, 2020, on YouTube, started with a musical and in it, the group members listed all persons who are holding key positions in the Electoral Commission, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Prisons, Uganda National Roads Authority, National Social Security Fund, Bank of Uganda, Ministry of Finance, Internal Security Organisation, headed by individuals who all hail from western Uganda.
They listed President Museveni, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen David Muhoozi, and Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the senior presidential advisor on special operations back then. The others they listed are Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi, the Commissioner-General of Prisons Dr Johnson Byabashaija, the Minister of Security Gen Elly Tumwine, Internal Security Organisation boss Col Bagyenda Kaka, Chief of Military Intelligence Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, the Commander of the Special Forces Command Maj Gen James Birungi, and the Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi.
They added that although the known Inspector General of Police (IGP) is Martin Okoth Ochola, the actual police boss then was his deputy Sabiiti Muzeeyi who also hails from the west. They said that because children were stuck at home following the closure of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, they needed to be taught to always pray for their leaders.