There is an outpouring of messages of get well soon and quick recovery on the Facebook timeline of Reuters Photojournalist, James Akena.
This is after he posted photos of him in a wheelchair, a sad predicament he finds himself in following the barrage of canes he received from Uganda;s army, the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF).
“Finally their brutality last August lands me on a wheelchair!” Akena posted on Thursday.
Akena was beaten by UDPF soldiers during the city riots that erupted after Kyadondo East lawmaker, Robert Kyagulanyi was arrested following the electoral chaos in Arua district.
The video and photos of Akena’s battering while kneeling on his knees went viral on social media – with the government, first dismissing the photos as “fake” and later saying the soldiers in the footage appeared to be from West Africa and not Ugandan soldiers. President Yoweri Museveni later on said that when he sought for an explanation from the army, he was told that Akena had been beaten because the soldiers mistook him to be a camera thief because he couldn’t easily be identified as a journalist.
According to Akena, a group of soldiers descended on him and started battering him. He explains that the soldiers assaulted him, forcefully confiscated his camera and took Shs 3.9 million that he had in his pocket. “The plaintiff (Akena) was repeatedly struck on various parts of his body by the three men, arrested, rough bundled onto a truck which drove the plaintiff and others to Qualicel Bus Terminal while they continued to be assaulted physically and verbally,” reads the application.
He notes that he was taken to Kampala central police station cells for about five hours and was released following the intervention of Luke Owoyesigyire, the then Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson currently deputy spokesperson.
He now wants shs100m in damages for the sad experience he went through at the hands of Uganda’s army.