City Pastor Augustine Yiga Alias Abizaayo of Revival Church Kawaala has been remanded to prison by Mwanga II Magistrate’s Court where he appeared and was charged for allegedly doing an act likely to spread coronavirus.
The controversial pastor was arrested by Police on Saturday when he used his television station to tell the public that coronavirus was non-existent in Africa basing on the fact that there are no deaths in many African countries.
Pastor Yiga on Monday appeared before grade one magistrate, Mr Timothy Lumunye and denied the charge against him.
Prosecution led by Ms Safina Bireeke claims that Pastor Yiga on March 27, 2020 at Revival Christian Church Kawaala in Rubaga Division before BBS television, Spark TV, NBS TV and Sanyuka TV cameras said: “There is no Corona virus in Uganda and Africa” knowing or having reason to believe that it is likely to spread COVID-19.
After denying the charges before court, Pastor Yiga, through his lawyer, Wilberforce Kayiwa, tried to apply for bail on grounds that he is diabetic and has to see his doctor regularly. He also told court that he has eight children to look after and that he is a pastor.
However, Ms Bireeke protested his bail application on grounds he did not present any medical documents to back up his claims.
Prosecution further observed that Yiga’s sureties (junior pastors) were not substantial enough for him to be released on bail.
“Police needs more time to carry out investigations,” Ms Bireeke added.
The magistrate remanded the pastor to Kitalya prison until April 4.
According to the magistrate, the pastor’s followers had not observed guidelines of social distancing as one of the measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Following his arrest on Saturday, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango said Yiga’s statements were reckless and asked members of the public to disregard them.
“The actions of Pastor Yiga promote the spread of the COVID-19 and can therefore be considered as a direct attack on the people of the Republic of Uganda. We appeal to the public to desist from making false or alarming utterances concerning over COVID-19 and disregard information not from authorised government structures,” Onyango said.
Section 171 of the Penal Code Act talks about a person who involves themselves in a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease commits a crime.
“Any person who unlawfully or negligently does any act which is and which he or she knows or has reason to believe to be likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life commits and offence and is liable to imprisonment for seven years,” the Penal Code Act says.
Uganda has so far registered 33 positive cases of deadly coronavirus.