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Priests, pastors arrested for flouting presidential directive on religious gatherings

By DERICK KISSA, RITAH KEMIGISAH & ALEX TUMUHIMBISE

Sunday March 22, 2020

 

Several priests and pastors from different parts of Uganda were on Sunday arrested by a joint security team for allegedly defying President Museveni’s directive against holding religious gatherings in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

President Museveni on Wednesday suspended religious, cultural and political gatherings for at least 32 days on grounds that it would help prevent the spread of the pandemic which has forced nearly one billion people around the world confined to their homes, as the death toll crossed 13,000.

However, the religious leaders were allegedly found celebrating mass/service on Sunday just hours after the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng confirmed the first case of COVID-19.


Christ the King parish priest, Msgr Gerald Kalumba was briefly detained at Central Police Station in Kampala for allegedly defying the president's directive.
He was arrested shortly after live streaming of the mass on television.

“Msgr Kalumba was briefly detained for holding mass which attracted a number of people in the congregation. He was arrested with members of the congregation,” said
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Mr Patrick Onyango.

When contacted, he told this publication that he had been released and that police had been misled.

“This is the best test we have. Can we follow Christ while we are alone, in our homes or we only think of following Christ while in Church? As we stay away from Church, let us remain faithful and prayerful and doing charitable work,” Msgr Kalumba urged.


Kisoro parish priest, Rev Fr. John Bazimenyera was arrested for allegedly holding Holy mass. He was taken to Kisoro police station as investigations continue.


In Jinja town, Pastor Zakaria Sserwanda of Evangel Church was on Sunday arrested by police for preaching to a big crowd. According to one of the congregants only identified as Esther, there were less than 10 members who were just recording the service for others to watch from home.

"We were not more than ten in the church. The pastor was preaching while others were recording it live on Facebook," she said.