An adjournment in the on-going homophobic smear case against three Ugandan Christian evangelist preachers became chaotic when one of the accused clergymen lost his temper with members of the public who were jeering him and his co-accused.
Mr Martin Sempa became angry in the Kampala court on Tuesday (July 26, 2011) when after losing his temper, he said he could no longer stand insults from his rival, Pastor Robert Kayanja’s followers who were taunting him in court. Women believed to be members of Kayanja’s choir hurled insults and taunts of a sexual nature at pastors Sempa, Solomon Male and Bob Kyazze.
The accused preachers, their lawyers, Henry Ddungu and David Kaggwa, together with David Mukalazi and Deborah Kyomuhendo (agents of the accused) face charges of conspiring to injure Pastor Robert Kayanja’s reputation. The two lawyers are charged with allegedly commissioning false affidavits.
One woman shouted that Kyazze and Sempa had tiny sex organs, while making graphic illustrations with her hands of her words. Another person said Pastor Sempa was diseased. This infuriated the accused preachers, prompting Sempa to ask a police officer in the court to restrain the crowds.
The magistrate, Mr John Patrick Wekesa had to emerge from his chambers to warn the warring parties. He said those who were interested in quarrelling could go to their churches or to Kampala’s Nakivubo Football Stadium to face off.
Earlier before the adjournment, the Uganda Police Head of Special Investigations Unit, Ms Grace Akullo told the court that she brought charges against the three anti-gay evangelists after discovering, “intrigue and blackmail” in accusations they made against their fellow clergyman, Pastor Robert Kayanja concerning sodomy.
Ms Akullo said she opened the case after realising that Pastors Sempa, Male and Kyazze were bent on spoiling the reputation of Pastor Kayanja, the lead pastor of Miracle Centre Cathedral, Lubaga with claims that Kayanja sodomised boys in his church.
She was testifying in the on going homophobic smear case in which the three preachers, their agents and lawyers are accused of conspiring to make false accusations that Kayanja sodomises boys.
Ms Akullo told the fully packed court room that she realised during investigations that a one Samson Mukisa had made several statements at a police station, accusing Kayanja of sodomising him.
“But then he kept retracting the statements and denied making the complaint in the first places,” Ms Akullo told the magistrate.
She said at one point, Mr Mukisa said he had been promised Sh50 million (about US$10,000) by agents of Mr Sempa, namely Mukalazi and Kyomuhendo to make false allegations against Kayanja. “But at another point, he (Mukisa) said he was promised [only] Sh6million (about US$2,400). It is not easy to sustain a lie,” the police officer told court.
Ms Akullo said after the Inspector General of Police, Mr Kale Kayihura instructed her to take on investigations, she could not understand why Mr Mukisa who had complained to police that Sempa wanted to harm him would go ahead to appear on national television with Sempa repeating the allegations against Kayanja. She said Mr Mukisa was at one point moved to a high security house in Bweyogerere, a Kampala suburb, by police under the witness protection measure, after claiming that Sempa wanted to harm him.
“They (Mukisa and Sempa’s agents) even had lunch together at Mommo Gallery, but he continued claiming that they wanted to harm him,” the officer told court. Mommo Gallery is an art exhibition centre in Kampala that also has restaurants.
Court was adjourned for an hour after the prosecution protested to the magistrate that the original statements made by the accused and Pastor Kayanja handed to prosecution lawyers had been handed over to the accused persons.
State prosecutor Stephen Asaba said the accused pastors have a history of changing documents and adjourned court so that photo copies could be made and shared.
It was during the adjournment that the drama described above, ensued.
If convicted, the accused pastors and their agents face a five year jail term each under Uganda’s penal code, according to State Prosecutor Stephen Asaba.
The accused pastors have strong links to The Family, a US-based anti lobby group, which is associated with funding Mr David Bahati, a Ugandan legislator to author and present the Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009 calling for the killing of homosexuals.