Acquitted Ugandan activist faints as police try to take her back to prison


Ugandan academic and activist Stella Nyanzi who won an appeal in the High Court, for a case in which she had been convicted of cyber-harassing President Yoweri Museveni fainted after a scuffle ensued between her supporters and police officers.

Ms. Nyanzi, who was ordered to be released immediately by a judge on Thursday, fainted after the trouble between her supporters and prison officials who tried to take her back into prison, according to Reuters news agency.

The judge ruled that she be released immediately, adding that the lower court which convicted her lacked jurisdiction, and that she had not be given a fair hearing, because she was denied the opportunity to prepare her defence.

Officials attempted to wrestle Ms. Nyanzi from her supporters but they managed to help her outside the court compound, put her in a car and drive off.

Security officers fired tear gas into the small crowd that formed, Reuters reports.

It quotes a supporter blaming the chaos on security officers:

“We were simply jubilating and we knew that this was court ground, we needed to move further… the police officers, they are the ones who brought in all this chaos,” Flavia Kalule is quoted as saying.

“It’s not surprising because that is how the mafia state operates,” she added.

Ms Nyanzi, who blew kisses and flashed the middle finger immediately after the judge’s verdict, had questioned the real reasons for her arrest before she fainted:

“Why was I in prison, because I wrote a poem? Because I expressed my deep disinterest and disgust of the NRM (National Resistance Movement) regime?” she asked.

She was convicted over a September 2018 Facebook post in which she referred to the president’s mother’s private parts.

She was sentenced to 18 months in jail in August 2019, and was already nearing the end of her jail term.

Ms. Nyanzi refused bail during her trial, and had therefore already served nine months in jail when she was convicted.

Before the court session started, she had been posing for photos, and promoting her recently-published collection of prison poetry. (Source: BBC)