Stella Nyanzi, Ugandan activist convicted of harassing Museveni, finally freed


Stella Nyanzi, Ugandan activist convicted of harassing Museveni, finally freed
Ugandan activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi during a previous court appearance. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Summary

  • Justice Peter Henry Adonyo of the International War Crimes Division of the High Court ruled that the lower court had no jurisdiction to convict Dr. Nyanzi of cyber harassment.

A Ugandan court on Thursday freed prominent activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi who was slapped with an 18-month jail sentence in August last year for harassing President Yoweri Museveni.

Justice Peter Henry Adonyo of the International War Crimes Division of the High Court ruled that the lower court had no jurisdiction to convict Dr. Nyanzi of cyber harassment.

“Prosecution did not ascertain the kind of device which was used to send as the digital prints were not presented before Buganda Road,” said the judge.

The court further stated that Dr. Nyanzi’s defence team was not accorded enough time to prepare, further that the prosecution’s witness did not provide a forensic report of his findings showing the mobile data Dr. Nyanzi allegedly used to commit the crime.

Judge Adonyo hence ordered that Dr. Nyanzi, an outspoken critic of President Museveni’s government, be released with immediate effect; leading to massive excitement within the courtroom.

A moment of temporary confusion was however witnessed as Dr. Nyanzi collapsed while being assisted to go sign her release papers, forcing the prison warders to carry her onto their vehicle and whisk her away.

According to prison authorities, the public mistook the action as Dr. Nyanzi being re-arrested, again, yet she was just being taken back to Luzira Women’s Prison – where she has already spend months – to sign out.

The academic, in September 2018, published a poem which used a graphic description of the birth of President Museveni and his mother’s vagina to criticize his “oppression, suppression and repression” of the country, which he has ruled for over 30 years.

“Yoweri, they say it was your birthday yesterday. How horrifically cancerous a day!” read part of the now infamous vagina poem.

“I wish the infectious dirty-brown discharge flooding Esiteri’s [Museveni’s mother’s] loose pussy had drowned you to death / Drowned you as vilely as you have sank and murdered the dreams and aspirations of millions of youths who languish in the deep sea of massive unemployment, and under-employment (sic) in Uganda.”

While the language and imagery in Nyanzi’s poetry may seem shocking, she said this “rudeness” is “the only option.”

“Politeness has been taken, it’s been held captive, and they don’t listen any more. So sometimes all you have to say is ‘f*** it!’” Nyanzi said about the Ugandan government, slamming down her fist. “And then people will hear and take you seriously.”

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Story By Ian Omondi
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