Old image shows Uganda police spokesman demonstrating catapult not firing on journalist

A tweet sharing a picture of a man in uniform holding a catapult claims it shows Uganda’s “new” police spokesman firing on a journalist to ask an “irrelevant question”. However, the claim is false: The picture shows a demonstration of Uganda’s national police spokesman Fred Enanga, who briefed journalists last year after officials seized a batch of imported catapults considered a security risk. Enanga has been at work since 2014.

Using the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, the AFP Fact Check found that the allegation was first posted on Twitter on March 12, 2022.

“The newly appointed Uganda police spokesman beats the News reporter with a caterpillar desk to ask irrelevant questions (sic),” reads the tweet, which has been shared more than 9,000 times.

Screenshot taken on March 14, 2022, showing the fake tweet

The author’s Twitter account shows that it is located in South Africa. Screenshots of the tweet, however, have since circulated online in Nigeria and other African countries.

Some Twitter users commented that the claim was incorrect, while others believed that the man in the picture was actually attacking a journalist.

However, the claim is false and the image has been used out of context.

Old picture

The logo of the Kampala-based Uganda Radio Network (URN) is visible in the lower right corner of the image. The combination of this track and a reverse image search led the AFP Fact Check to a report by the news agency URN.

“Fred Enanga shows how some of the recovered catapults are being used,” reads URN’s caption on a cropped version of the same image in the April 2021 report. It is about the police investigation into the illegal importation of “factory-made catapults” into Uganda “to incite violence”.

Enanga is the current spokesman for Uganda’s national police force and there is no evidence to suggest that his appointment was recent, as the posts suggest. In fact, Enanga has been the country’s police spokesman since April 2014.

In addition, the original version of the image was accompanied by a police statement about the catapult investigation.

Screenshot showing the image on Uganda Police website

“The catapults are capable of firing metallic projectiles or bearings, thus posing a serious threat to the safety and security of Ugandans,” read part of the statement issued on April 12, 2021 by Enanga himself.

In addition, television reports on the press briefing were uploaded to YouTube by local broadcasters, including Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and New Vision Television.

“You do this and then you target someone. So you can see how dangerous this thing is,” Enanga says as he pulls out an empty slingshot. “It’s very dangerous.”

Police reject the allegation

Uganda’s police have too dismissed the allegation on Twitter as “fake news”. Their response followed a screenshot of a similar allegation tweeted by popular Kenyan lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, whose caption read: “Our neighbors …” followed by laughter emojis.

Although Abdullahi has since deleted his tweet, AFP Fact Check found a version saved on the Wayback Machine filing platform.

Leave a Comment