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Pastor, Couple Arrested for Flouting Directive on Religious Gatherings

Kibaale Police are holding a pastor and couple accused of flouting the presidential directives aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The suspects are Pastor Everest Mbonanjenera from the Pentecostal Assembly of God in Kitoma trading center in Matale sub-county Kibaale district and Emmanuel Ndayambaje and his newlywed wife, Esther Natukunda, both residents of Kanoga- Kitoma village in Matale Sub County

Police accuse the pastor of presiding over a wedding ceremony on Sunday with over 100 people in disregard of the COVID-19 preventive guidelines. In his recent directives, president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, said only 20 people can attend a wedding.

Thomas Oyo, the Officer-in-Charge of Kibaale Central Police Station told Uganda Radio Network on Monday that they received a tip from residents that the pastor was presiding over the couple’s wedding party with more than 100 people in his church in disregard of the presidential directive.

He says that they stormed Kitoma village where they found more than 100 people enjoying the wedding party presided over by the pastor. According to Oyo, they immediately arrested the pastor and couple and whisked them off to Kibaale Central Police station where they are in custody.

Oyo says the Pastor faces charges of engaging in a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease.

On Friday last week, police also arrested pastor Winfred Ayesiga 39, a resident of Kihaguzi village B, Labbongo Sub County in Masindi district for allegedly conducting prayers in her church. Police swung in action on a tip-off from concerned residents that the pastor was still conducting prayers and many faithful to access the church despite the suspension of congregational prayers as part of the COVID-19 containment measures.

Police found more than 20 people praying in the church prompting them to arrest Ayesiga. Last week, president, Museveni suspended all public events for at least 42 days as part of the measures to contain the second wave of COVID-19.

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