In a few minutes, she reached out for her phone and called for reinforcement. In an instant two policemen appeared. They grabbed Tamale and dragged him to Kasangati police station that was in their sight.
At the police station, one officer seated at the reception didn’t hide his admiration for the government by scorning at those he perceives to be its enemies.
“You can’t fight the government, the government is very powerful. My advice to you is to try something else,” Tamale recalls a male officer telling him.He wondered how a journalist wearing a branded shirt, recording what was happening with the purpose of informing the people, was fighting the government. The officer in charge whose nametag read Tumwesigye asked what offence he should record and the lady who arrested Tamale told him ‘inciting violence.’
“The charge was laughable, to say the least. When they arrested me, there was no other person or journalist to prove otherwise. I was therefore left to the mercy of the officer,” Tamale says.
He was booked in one of the cells, which had more than 80 suspects mainly arrested during Christmas and New Year festivities.“The officer who took me told the inmates that, ‘I’m bringing a newcomer; you should welcome him in our way.’ I wondered what that way was, but the funny part of it, they welcomed me very well after knowing that I was a journalist,” Tamale recalls.
When he got an opportunity to get out for a short call, Tamale demanded that he speaks to the person concerned to find out why he was arrested and how he could get back his freedom but got no answers.This meant that he had to spend a night in the cells. This was the first time that he was sleeping in a cell of any kind. He says it was one of the longest nights in his entire life.
“It would be a lie if I tell you I ever slept even briefly. Actually I spent the entire night standing because the room was too small to allow us all sleep,” Tamale said.With the alarm sounded by another journalist working for Radio Simba, Ssematimba Bwegiire who was also briefly arrested, Tamale’s predicament got to Robert Ssempala, the executive director Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) who came and rescued him.
Ssempala in the company of BBS TV news editor, Andrew Mukasa Mutyaba spent about four hours trying to convince police to release Tamale on bond. But before he could be released, the DPC whose nametag read Muhangi had some advice for him.
“Why don’t you come out publicly like Joel Ssenyonyi and say you are leaving journalism for activism,” Tamale recalls Muhangi telling him.