Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi has expressed disappointment with Buganda Road court Grade One magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu for failing to find her guilty of annoying President Yoweri Museveni. Although Buganda Road Chief Magistrate's court today, Thursday found Nyanzi guilty of cyber harassment, she was acquitted of offensive communication on grounds that there was no overwhelming evidence against her.
Court said prosecution failed to adduce evidence to show how President Museveni was annoyed. Cyber harassment attracts a maximum sentence of three years or a fine of Shs 1.4 million. She will be sentenced tomorrow. Nyanzi said her intention had been to annoy the president because he has annoyed Ugandans for the last 30 years.
Nyanzi has been in Luzira since November 2018 after she refused to apply for bail. She becomes the first person to be convicted under the Computer Misuse Act which came into law a few years ago.
"I planned to offend to Yoweri Museveni Kaguta because has offended is for 30 plus years. Find me guilty of cyber harassment. Find me guilty of anything else, but please, find me guilty of offensive communication against Yoweri Museveni Kaguta! Find me guilty of that one. The prosecution wasn’t good enough, Timothy you weren’t good enough. Find me guilty of offending Yoweri Museveni Kaguta because that is what every serious mother in Uganda should be doing. We’re tired of dictatorship." said Nyanzi to a cheering courtroom.
"Send me to Luzira if my crime is I told a dirty delinquent dictator that he is a delinquent dictator, that he is a dictator and that Ugandans are tired. And I wish his mother’s vagina had squeezed him out. I won’t repent for anything. I celebrate that one woman was bold enough to deploy a dead woman’s vagina. One dead woman’s vagina was deployed. My name is Stella, it comes from Esteri. I’m Esteri, my great grand mother was Esteri. I deployed Esteri’s vagina she is dead. It’s a metaphor."
Nyanzi's conviction stems from a case in which Nyanzi is accused of posting a loutish birthday poem on her Facebook page on September 16, 2018, attacking the late Esteri Kokundeka the late mother to President Museveni. The poem was written in a vulgar language.
Although prosecution adduced evidence from three witnesses to pin Nyanzi, court mainly relied on the evidence of detective assistant superintendent of police Bill Ndyamuhaki from the cyber crimes department of police.
Kamasanyu said that Ndyamuhaki adduced overwhelming evidence to show how he was able to prove that Nyanzi owned the Facebook account where the indecent poem was posted. She noted that Ndyamuhaki tendered before court the evidence including exhibits such as activation codes used to create Nyanzi’s Facebook account, the documents showing the number that activated the Facebook account, a photocopy of the passport Nyanzi reportedly used to apply for the phone number from MTN Uganda which she used to create the Facebook page.
Ndyamuhaki also tendered two bio-data forms obtained from Makerere University vice-chancellor and the human resource manager. The witness also adduced two court orders that were secured in December 2018 and April 2019 before Buganda Road chief magistrate Miriam Akello and later served to MTN Uganda and Makerere University before he obtained the information about Nyanzi.
Kamasanyu ruled that Nyanzi has no explanation whatsoever because she was asked to defend herself of the said charges but chose to remain silent. On the second charge of offensive communication, Kamasanyu said that the evidence from prosecution was insufficient since it couldn't prove that the poem had been posted repeatedly.
Nyanzi said although the judge had counselled her against poisoning the minds of her three children and other young people in the country through her vulgar language, she said her children were actually celebrating her protest and imprisonment because they have been well prepared for a motherless future, and that she takes pride in being an immoral person.
"I would have raised the issue of my children, but I will not do that. Very many mothers would say, 'I have young children.' I will sacrifice motherhood to whatever alter I have to sacrifice motherhood to…mothers have to raise their voices against dictators such as Yoweri Kaguta Museveni…I was born for this moment…Let my children be motherless if it means I will speak truth to power." she said.
"My children celebrate my protest actions. My children are protestors who are free to express themselves. My children are taken care of by Ugandans who believe in the ideals I espouse. My children don’t deserve a mother who is silent. I refuse to be silenced in the face of oppression, in the face of dictatorship." she added.
Nyanzi took issues with the 'silenced public media', that she said are have been intimidated by the state.
"Internet must be protected. The public media has been silenced, the public media are silent. How many of us can afford OTT [over the top taxes]. So I use a weapon that I pay for. It is free of charge and I will not allow the dictatorship to tell me what words to say to the dictatorship. If it is a dirty vagina that gets the attention of the dictatorship, then a smelly vagina it will be." she said.
Nyanzi who spent most of her time drawing opposition political party, Forum for Democratic Party (FDC) and People Power hand sketches, told the magistrate to do something about the toilets in Luzira because every three weeks, sewerage is always overflowing into the women's bathroom exposing the female prisoners to infections. She said she did not blame the magistrate for finding her guilty because she had no choice.
"I really feel sorry for you. How do you dispense justice in an injustice system? I know this is important for your career."
Additional reporting by URN