14 people arrested for holding congregational prayers in forest

14 people arrested for holding congregational prayers in forest

Kabale, Uganda | URN | Kabale police are holding 14 people for holding prayers in a forest in violation of the presidential ban on congregational prayers and any kind of gathering to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 disease.

Some of the suspects are Ruth Twebaze, Prudence Rosette, Naome Nahwera, Mercy Orishaba, Sheila Owomugisha, Grace Ninsima, Mary Rukundo, Patience Turyahabwa, Lucky Akansimira, Alex Shema and Bosco Innocent.

The suspects are members of the Word of Faith Church in Nyabikoni ward in Central division in Kabale Municipality led by Pastor Obed Ndyamuba.

Elly Maate, the Kigezi region police spokesperson says the suspects were found praying in a group of more than 50 people in an Eucalyptus and Pine tree forest on top of Makanga hill in Central division in Kabale district on Wednesday 10th afternoon.

According to Maate, police stormed the forest on a tip off from concerned residents who accused the church members of converging every Wednesday and Saturday on the hill for prayers. Maate says many believers took off on seeing security officers.

The remaining worshipers were arrested and locked up at Kabale Central Police. Maate explains that the suspects hail from different sub counties in Kabale district.

He wonders why people continue gathering for prayers in disregard of the presidential directives on congregational prayers as part of the COVID-19 preventive measures.

Pastor Ndyamuba, the head of the group pleaded for their release in vain. He explained that his followers were forced to congregate in the forest for prayers because they are hungry for God since places of worship have been closed for long.

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The suspects argue that they converged to pray to God to chase away the coronavirus from the world and were observing physical distancing.

This is not the first time Christian worshipers in Kigezi sub region are being arrested for defying the ban on congregational prayers. In March this year, Pastor Festo Kasooka from Revival Tabernacle Church in Kabale district was arrested together with 8 followers holding prayers in the home of Judith Ahimisiwe in Rushambya village in Northern division.

In the same month, Rev. Fr. John Bazimenyera, the Dean of Mutolere Deanery in Kisoro district was arrested for holding prayers. In May this year, Rev. Canon Patrick Habasa, the Archdeacon of Nyamiyaga Archdeaconry in North Kigezi Diocese in Kanungu district was arrested together with four Christians for holding a baptism ceremony.