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Woman assaulted by LDUs accuses UPDF of neglect

Maria Namakula

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT | A woman, who was allegedly assaulted by Local Defence Unit personnel enforcing Covid19 orders, has accused the Uganda People’s Defence Forces of neglecting her.

Maria Namakula, who was beaten while returning from a clinic in Mityana Municipality, said she was promised by senior UPDF officers that she would be taken to an army hospital for treatment.

She says that the UPDF team was led Maj Gen Samuel Kawagga, who is the First Division commander. The promise was made when Maj Gen Kawagga and other senior army officers rushed to Mityana District after LDUs and other soldiers were captured on camera assaulting Mityana district Chairperson Joseph Luzige.

“When Chairman [Joseph Luzige] was beaten, Army leaders came to meet him. I also went to the district headquarters where I met army leaders. They said they were going to take me to hospital for treatment but they have never returned. I am living in pain and I can hardly do any work,” Namakula said.

She recounts that it was about 6:50 pm when a patrol vehicle carrying LDUs and other UPDF soldiers stopped her. The LDUs jumped off and clobbered as other soldiers dispersed other people.

Namakula adds that she was beaten and could hardly run or walk. The LDUs later boarded the Police Patrol car and proceeded to other streets. She was left helpless until she collected herself and limped up to her rented single room.

“I have three children and I was providing for them. But when I was injured, I sent them to their grandmother. I was working in a restaurant but I am now lame. I can’t do any work. I need to be treated and given support because I am struggling even to get food,” Namakula adds.

Maj Yusuf Bilal Katamba, who is the spokesperson of UPDF First Division that superintends LDUs, said the personnel’s actions were because the Covid-19 directives came in so fast and there was no time to sensitise them on how they were to implement the orders.

“They came in Covid-19. Nobody prepared for Covid-19. We got new directives which had to be enforced. LDUs came closer to the population. When you are enforcing you have to engage a certain gear. Some became to hash and beat up women. We came up and regretted and we also apologized,” Maj Katamba said.

Maj Katamba said as UPDF they punished all LDUs who clobbered citizens. He said the force’s strategy was to penalize those that had brutalized citizens but issues of treatment were to be followed later. At least 15 LDUs were arrested, charged and convicted over brutalizing citizens during Covid-19. 

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