Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Former Makerere University Researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi has been sentenced to 18 months in jail for cyber harassment. However, she will only spend eight months in prison, in consideration of the time she has spent on remand, since her arrest in November 2018.
Nyanzi was sentenced by Buganda Road Court Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu following her conviction which stemmed from a boorish birthday poem, which was posted on her social media pages on September 16, 2018, a day after President Museveni’s 74th birthday. The poem ridiculed President Museveni’s late mother Esteeri Kokundeka.
In the post, Stella Nyanzi, formerly a research fellow at Makerere University Institute for Social Research, crafted vulgarity about President Museveni and his birth. On the basis of the post, she was accused of cyber harassment and offensive communication.
The prosecution said that the post disturbed the peace, quiet or right of privacy of President Museveni. However, she was found guilty of cyber harassment and acquitted on the charges of offensive communication.
Although the offence of cyber harassment attracts a maximum sentence of 3 years or a fine of sh1.4 million shillings, the Magistrate said the term of 18-months was appropriate, since Nyanzi was a first time offender, with no criminal record.
Nyanzi’s heard her sentence through video conferencing live from Luzira Prison, while hundreds of her supporters filled the courtroom. On the live link, she was seen stripping naked and heard uttering obscenities, in what was interpreted as a sign of protest. But the images and the volume were muted by the technical team.
Before the images were switched off, Nyanzi was seen rubbing and squeezing her breasts while cursing the ruling government of President Yoweri Museveni faulting it for poor service delivery especially in Luzira prisons.
Her supporters at the courtroom were cheering her, equally hurling insults at the Magistrate. A number of them held protests outside the court. URN has learnt that four of them were arrested and taken to Kampala Central Police Station.