Buganda Road court Chief Magistrate has temporarily halted mental examination proceedings against Makerere University researcher Dr. Stella Nyanzi, pending the determination of her constitutional petition.
On Tuesday, James Ereemye Mawanda blocked the proceedings, which was slated to be heard under the Mental Treatment Act (MTA) of 1938, but allowed criminal proceedings in which she is battling charges of Cyber Harassment and Offensive Communication to proceed.
“I am satisfied that this is a good case for stay of proceedings under the MTA to allow the Constitutional court exercise her jurisdiction without this court rendering the applicants petition nugatory,” he said.
In the petition she made at the Constitutional court on May 26, 2017, Dr. Nyanzi is challenging the legality and Constitutionality of the impugned provisions of the MTA.
In April, the Resident Senior State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya asked court to inquiry into Nyazi’s mental status to ascertain whether she is of sound mind.
The Chief Magistrate also rejected pleas by the state to have Dr. Nyanzi’s bail cancelled under the sub judice rule.
According to Muwaganya, Nyanzi had posted on her Facebook post stating that he (Muwaganya) allegedly tucks his shirt into his boxer shorts made in China while wearing his dark suit, neck tie and spectacles.
The Magistrate said Nyanzi’s face book post does not fall within the ambit of the violation of the sub-judice rule or contempt of court to warrant cancellation of her bail.
Mawanda observed that Nyanzi’s misgiving and expression of the dissatisfaction on her Facebook is a form of complaint about the manner a public officer conducts themselves at the expense of those whom they are supposed to serve.
But the Magistrate warned that the sanctity and integrity of court as temples of justice must be respected.
“The officers of court are accountable to the public be it prosecutors or advocates. Our conduct at the bar or bench must be beyond repute if respect for the courts shall be achieved from the general public, who have a right to complain.
He therefore directed the bar to be professional in their fiduciary duty to clients, their colleagues and court.
Prosecution alleges that on January 28, 2017 in Kampala district or there about used a computer to post on her Facebook page “Stella Nyanzi” and made a suggestion which is obscene or indecent under the law against the President.
Prosecution further alleges that between January and March 2017 in Kampala district, Nyanzi willfully and repeatedly used electronic communication to post offensive messages via her Facebook, transmitted over the internet to disturb the peace or right of privacy of the President with no purpose of legitimate communication.
Shortly after the court ruling, Nyanzi, clad in a coffee brown Kitenge said she was happy because the magistrate made a decision that she did not expect. “The magistrate has given us hope because the said law was for the colonialist”.