A 39-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly slapping the Ugandan Minister for Works and Transportation, Musa Ecweru, during Sunday mass at the Catholic Church of São Miguel, in Wera sub-district, Amuria district.
It is alleged that the minister, who is also the MP for Amuria County, was attending prayers at the church when Mr. Michael Okurut, a resident of Wera, attacked him.
The minister reportedly went to present a tractor that had been delivered to the Catholic community of Wera by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Sources who witnessed the 11:30 a.m. incident told media agencies that Okurut silently and humbly entered the church building and walked to the altar, where he made the sign of the cross before approaching the unsuspecting minister.
While the minister was busy delivering a speech to the congregation, Okurut approached him and slapped him on the face, sending shockwaves through the congregation.
“He came in silence and even made the sign of the cross. I thought he would find a seat like other members of the congregation did, but instead, he walked up to the Minister and whispered something before slapping the Minister hard on the ear,” a source said.
“He tried to hit the minister a second time, but his hand was blocked before the Minister’s escorts, who were waiting outside, entered the church and overpowered him (Okuru),” the source added.
Oscar Ageca, acting spokesman for East Kyoga Police, said Okurut was arrested and taken to Wera police station for questioning.
“A case of assault has been opened at the police station in Wera, where statements are being recorded, and the suspect has been arrested while investigations and inquiries into the matter are accelerated,” Ageca said.
Local media contacted the police chief, who described the suspect as “mentally ill.”
“We have determined his background information. We confirmed that he was a lunatic. His madness occasionally attacks him, and when he suffers, he is wild and violent,” Ecweru said.
This is not the first time such an incident has happened.
On April 1, 2018, a man wielding a staff was arrested after attempting to attack Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira at the altar during Easter prayers at Namirembe Cathedral.
Herbert Solomon Kaddu was later accused of violently threatening Bishop Luwalira and Reverend Can Kityo and disrupting religious meetings before being taken to Luzira prison.