Ugandan novelist Kakwenza granted bail on medical grounds

Tuesday January 25 2022
Ugandan novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija.

Ugandan award-winning novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija has been released on bail. PHOTO | COURTESY


A court in Kampala has Tuesday released Ugandan award-winning novelist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija on bail after nearly a month under detention, according to his lawyer Eron Kiiza.

Mr Rukirabashaija has been released by the Buganda Road Court on a cash bail of Ush500,000 ($142), and Ush10 million ($2,839) for his sureties.

He and his lawyers have been barred from discussing the case in public or with the media.

Mr Rukirabashaija had asked to be released on bail on grounds that he had been tortured during detention and needed medical attention from a facility of his choice. His lawyers Eron Kiiza and Samuel Wanda had submitted a letter from prison authorities, indicating that he was remanded with complaints of healing wounds and scars.

Mr Rukirabashaija was arrested on December 28, 2021, from his home in Kisaasi, by a joint security team from police and the Special Forces, following tweets he posted that were seen as an attack on the first son, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. He told family that he was being detained by the Special Forces in Entebbe.

On January 11, he was charged for disturbing the peace of President Yoweri Museveni and his son Gen. Kainerugaba.


The court heard that on December 24, 2021, in Kampala district, Kakwenza wilfully and repeatedly used his Twitter handle, @KakwenzaRukira, to “disturb the peace” of President Museveni with no purpose of legitimate communication.

The court was further told that between December 26 and 28, 2021, Kakwenza used the same Twitter handle to disturb the peace of Museveni's son Gen. Kainerugaba.

On January 4, 2022, a court in Makindye, presided over by Magistrate Irene Nambatya, issued an order directing the government to release Kakwenza unconditionally. But the government ignored the order.

Rukirabashaija, a satirical novelist, was named International Writer of Courage by PEN last year and is best known for his novel The Greedy Barbarian, which tackles corruption in a fictional country.

He was arrested in April 2020 and held for seven days and tortured, then detained again in September of that year.

He wrote about what he went through in detention in another book, Banana Republic: Where Writing Is Treasonous.