Police have in a rare outact come out to apologize to Buganda kingdom and the Catholic Church after firing tear gas at its officials during mass in Mityana.
On Saturday, police in Mityana district fired tear gas to disperse members of the Mbogo clan who had convened at their ancestral site at Mugulu, Ziggoti town council to attend thanksgiving prayers for their elder leader, Gajuule Kayiira Kasibante.
Kasibante served as head of Buganda’s 52 clans for the last seven years until recently when Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II replaced him with Omutaka Namwama Augustine Nsereko.
The mass was led by retired Masaka Diocesan bishop, John Baptist Kaggwa, but the function was later disrupted by police and military officers who fired tear gas to block more people from accessing the venue. In the ensuing melee, some elderly persons fainted after inhaling tear gas.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre, police spokesman Fred Enanga said police actions were to prevent a big gathering in a bid to prevent further spread of coronavirus in the country.
Enanga said what police did was not intentional - the reason they have come out to apologize to all those who were directly impacted by the teargas including bishop Kaggwa and the cultural leaders from Buganda kingdom at large.
"It was not intentional and that is how we come to apologize to all those who were directly impacted by the tear gas; that is the Catholic Church, the retired bishop Kaggwa and members of the Mbogo clan. We call upon coordination for all forms of religious, all cultural functions should also know that such large gatherings were actually prohibited but regulated because of health and safety is the number one priority during this period," said Enanga.
He was however quick to blame politicians for the incident Mityana MP Francis Zaake and Busujju county MP David Kalwanga among others, who, he said came with a fleet of over 50 boda bodas and youth which resulted into a larger gathering in an uncontrolled setting against the ministry of Health coronavirus guidelines.
"At some stage our officers found themselves confronted by the supporters of these politicians who wanted to gain access to the venue; all other efforts to disperse them failed and the only option left was to deploy teargas," said Enanga.
He says that police had to use teargas to disperse the seemingly violent group, the same tear gas that spread to the venue where the bishop was holding the mass.
Buganda premier, Charles Peter Mayiga condemned the police actions, saying it was not wise to disperse people who were respecting the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines.