Prominent Ugandan activist and academic Dr. Stella Nyanzi has been sentenced to 18 months in prison on disputed charges of “harassing” the President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
On Thursday 1st August, Nyanzi was convicted for cyber harassment but acquitted of separate charges of offensive communication. She appeared before the magistrate at Buganda Road Court.
On Friday 2nd August, Nyanzi’s sentence was delivered amidst disorder. Chaos erupted as Grade one Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu sentenced the Makerere researcher to 18 months in prison. Nyanzi will be serving 9 months in Luzira Prison as she has already served half of her sentence while on remand since her arrest in November last year.
Nyanzi’s trial has been a controversial one, usually with activists flocking the court screaming chants against the regime every time she had a hearing. Her sentencing was not any different. The sentence threw the crowd in a frenzy with them throwinginsults at the judge who they accused of being the oppressive regime’s mouthpiece. There was also a bottle throwing incident at the magistrate as the court turned rowdy that saw 6 suspects thrown behind bars.
Nyanzi did not appear physically in court but was part of proceedings via video conferencing. When given the forum to say something, Nyanzi hurled insults at the judge while raising both middle fingers up and yelling obscene statements in regard to the ruling. She said that she was not aware of the fact that she would not appear in court physically. More drama ensued as the volume was turned on and off several times, during her address which agitated the activist. “Why are you reducing my volume?”, she screamed before raising her blouse and flashing her breasts in defiance, sending her supporters in wild cheers.
Nyanzi promised to continue offending Museveni who she accuses of offending Ugandans for more than 30 years that he has held on to power.
In her uncensored writings that are usually delivered via Nyanzi’s Facebook page, she has constantly written against the president and the regime at large.