September 16, 2019 South Sudan NEWS PORTAL

(KAMPALA) – Yesterday, a South Sudanese journalist attached to Kenya based Nation Media Group was kidnapped and tortured by unknown assailants.

Joseph Oduha in hospital
He said he sustained injuries on his body and has is feeling a lot of pain in his arms and belly as a result of repeated kicking and punching by the assailants. Photo: PML Daily

Joseph Oduha, a Nation Media Group’s correspondent based in South Sudan said the incident happened at around 1:00 pm near the premises of Ministry of Internal Affairs in neighboring Kampala, but he was eventually taken away on a motorcycle to an unknown location where he was severely tortured.

According to the victim, the two kidnappers who were dressed in long dust coats came on a motorcycle and ordered him to board the bike while threatening to kill him should he reject or make an alarm.

“I was just walking by the roadside. They stopped in front of me and quickly dragged me on to the motorbike and drove me to an unknown location where they tortured me.” Mr Oduha said while speaking to PML Daily (a Kampala based news agency) on phone on Monday morning.

He noted that the two unknown kidnappers whom he suspects to be Ugandan nationals said they were looking for him then took him to meet two other assailants at an unknown location within Kampala where he was tortured.

He said the other two who were waiting for him seem to be South Sudanese.

“I was kidnapped within the street of Kampala near the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The kidnappers were two. They rode on a motorbike. I was just walking by the roadside, they stopped in front of me and quickly dragged me onto the motorbike and drove me to an unknown location where they tortured me. They can’t even talk to me more at the time of kidnap.

In that location where they took me to, there some of their colleagues who looks like south Sudanese national but they were speaking to me in English only. They beat me up, kicking and boxing were the order of the day.” he narrated

Oduha noted that the assailants were probably trailing him since the day he came to Kampala a few days ago. He suspected that incident happened in relation to his work as a journalist.

“It seems the attackers might have been trailing me and monitoring my movement here in Kampala. I still don’t know the reason for the attack but I believe it may be related to my profession because they told me they were looking for me but when I asked them why? There was no answer. I got afraid because I thought they would gun me down if I don’t comply with their orders. I don’t know if they have a gun or not because all were dressed up in long dust coats.”

After gaining some momentum amidst the scuffle, Oduha said managed to run to the roadside and the assailants never followed him nor pick property from him.

“When I ran to the road they decided not to follow me there. They were 4, one of them also told the others that let him go he had felt it. I straight away went to the Embassy of South Sudan and reported the case there.”

He said he sustained injuries on his body and has is feeling a lot of pain in his arms and belly as a result of repeated kicking and punching by the assailants.

However, when PML Daily contacted the Embassy of South Sudan in Kampala, an official who only identified herself as Ms. Connie said they are not yet aware of the complaint.

She said it was unfortunate that the Embassy is closed on a Sunday and the security personnel at the premises are not entitled to receive such complaints.

“We don’t open the embassy on Sunday. Nobody came here in regard to that and I am not aware of it neither my colleagues. He should come to the embassy and let the official concern take it up or should have reported to the police because the security at the gate are not entitled handle such case” Ms Connie responded through phone interview on today.

Mr. Robert Ssempala, the Executive Director of Human Rights Network for Journalist-Uganda also said they are not yet aware of the incident. He requested the victim to contact them so that they can get involved.

Joseph Oduha was born in 1992 in Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan. He started his journalism career in 2008, working with the South Sudan Post as a reporter and later as an editor for the Business Weekly.

He obtained a certificate in journalism, issued by the Sudan Media Forum in 2011. In 2015 he enrolled at Juba University, studying at the College of Community Studies and Rural Development. Joseph joined the MiCT The Niles team in 2013. It is not clear when he began working for Nation Media Group. 

A number of his articles published on Nairobi based The East African newspaper appear to be very recent ones.

“Hard to believe nowadays, but I used to love my chosen profession. That was before civil war broke out in 2013. In the heady pre-civil war era,  hopes ran high that South Sudan would have freedom of the press. Those hopes are long gone.

I  report on politics, corruption, violations of human rights and of freedom of the press and speech. That makes me a front-line reporter in today’s South Sudan. – Joseph Oduha speaking to For South Sudan on journalism in the country

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