Researcher Stella Nyanzi granted bail

Researcher Stella Nyanzi granted bail
Dr Stella Nyanzi could not walk without support. Internet Photo.

Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate James Eremye Mawanda has granted a 10 million non-cash bail to Makerere University Researcher Stella Nyanzi.

She was ordered to deposit her passport with court and return on May 25 for hearing of a main application for a psychiatric examination against her by the state. Five people stood surety for Nyanzi, who could barely support herself in court today, due to a failing health situation. She appeared frail and could only be supported by prison warders.

The sureties include her sister Sheila B Nyanzi, a friend Nalongo Namata Annet, Dr Moses Khisa, a Political Science Don at North Western University USA, activist Solome Nakaweesi Kayondo and Human rights activist Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala. The five were also granted a10 million non-cash bond.

Dr. Stella Nyanzi is charged with two counts of cyber harassment and offensive communication contrary to provisions of the Computer Misuse Act. Nyanzi was also charged with using the internet to disturb the peace and right to privacy of the president.

Prosecution alleges that Stella Nyanzi used her social media pages to refer to President Yoweri Museveni as “a pair of buttocks.” She denied the charges but told court that she always writes ‘metaphorically’ to deliver messages to ‘those in power’.

In reference to her vulgar and erotic posts, prosecutor Jonathan Muwaganya filed an application on April 10, asking court to order that Nyanzi is subjected to a psychiatric examination. Muwaganya told court that Nyanzi has a history of erratic psychiatric disorder and was once a patient at Butabika Hospital. The application was based on the affidavit by SP Mboniva Emmanuel, one of the police officers investigating Nyanzi’s case.

Today, Muwaganya had argued against her bail application saying that Nyanzi should not be released before determination of her mental status. Muwaganya added that Nyanzi should be stopped from making any cyber-attack or derogatory statement against the president and his immediate relatives. He also asked court Stella to refrain from discussing the case in court.

But Defence Lawyer Nicholas Opiyo told court that they need time to discuss details of the mental health application before submitting detailed arguments against it and that can only happen when she is granted bail. Opiyo also protested the bail conditions arguing that such terms violate her freedom of expression. He prayed for lenient bail terms in consideration of her health condition.

Before court proceedings, a group of Makerere University human rights Students were arrested protesting Stella prosecution. Four students were arrested and are currently detained at Central Police Station, located near Buganda Road chief magistrate court.