By our reporter
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has directed radio proprietors to refund all money lost to fake witchdoctors on radio and warned broadcasters over witchcraft promotion. UCC has summoned and held a hearing for 5 Local FM broadcasters over content related to advertising and promoting witchcraft in Uganda.
The summoned broadcasters are Apex FM, Metro FM, Star FM, FUFA FM and Dembe FM.The summons follow a repeated exercise of monitoring and investigation by the Commission revealing that some broadcasters were advertising and promoting witchcraft contrary to Section 2 of the Witchcraft Act (Cap 124).
90.8 Metro Fm is owned by former local government minister and Kampala Mp Capt.Francis Edward Babu whereas Dembe Fm 90.4 and 87.5 are under the Nation media Group and Uganda Gov’t official broadcaster-The Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) respectively. Fufa Fm is owned by the National Football governing body,FUFA.
At the hearing, audio recordings of conmen or purported witchcraft practitioners were played and the broadcasters tasked to explain their contents which are deemed as aiding and abetting electronic fraud contrary to sections 19 and 21 of the Computer Misuse Act, 2011.In what appears to be an organized crime, one of the recordings bears a voice of a purported witchdoctor called Nalongo Bafuna who shares her telephone contacts on air and calls upon listeners to send to her mobile money and expect quicker and bigger returns from the traditional spirits “emisambwa”.
In one particular incident, a complainant from Buikwe District was conned Shs1,400,000 that was sent through mobile money to a purported traditional healer that advertised her services on Apex FM in return for quick fortunes and good luck. The Complainant has since reported the matter to Police and the Commission for action.
The Commission had directed the said broadcasters to write letters of undertaking not to air the said content again and, has ordered the said broadcasters to refund all the victims’ money within a minimum of 10 working days after verifying that the money was indeed sent. The Commission also put on notice all the broadcasters countrywide to comply with the Minimum Broadcasting Standards and the applicable laws of Uganda.