Court in Kampala has ordered an Administrator of a WhatsApp group to reinstate a member who had been ejected from the group.
This followed a successful application filed by Herbert Baitwababo on 30 May 2023 contesting his ejection from the WhatsApp group. In his application, through his lawyers of Volen Advocates, Baitwababo informed the court that Allan Asinguza formed the “Buyanja Back to My Roots” WhatsApp group in 2017 for people who hail from Buyanja Sub County in Rukungiri District.
The purpose of the group was for members to contribute to charity works, offering condolences and support during calamities in their Sub County. When it was created, each member of the group, including Baitwababo, was required to pay thirty thousand shillings as membership fee. Herbert Baitwababo was one of the members of the group until May this year when he was removed after he raised what he calls accountability questions.
According to Baitwababo’s affidavit, on 16 May 2023, he sent a letter to Asinguza requesting the instrument that authorized them to manage the group’s affairs, an audit report, and accountability for the funds collected from registered members since 2017. “As a consequence of the above letter the respondent removed me from the WhatsApp group of “Buyanja Back to My Roots” on the 17th Day of May 2023,” reads the petition in part.
Baitwababo claimed that his removal from the group was intended to infringe upon his right to association and unjustly enrich the others. “I pray for the protection of this court through issuance of an order directing the respondent to add me back to the WhatsApp Group and a permanent order restraining Asinguza from ejecting me from the WhatsApp groups of the association,” Baitwababo told Court.
Based on the evidence presented, the court issued the orders in Baitwababo’s favour. In his ruling on Monday, May 19, Igga Adiru, the Acting Senior Grade One Magistrate at Makindye, directed Asinguza to reinstate Baitwababo. In his orders, Adiru also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting Asinguza, his agents, and assignees from further violating Baitwababo’s right to association.
He, however, didn’t issue any orders on the costs of the suit.
Screenshots submitted as evidence revealed that after Baitwababo’s removal from the group, some remaining members made derogatory remarks about him, while others expressed their desire to have him back but in a discriminatory manner due to his size. One of the members, “Allan Chairman BMR,” posted that they had been discussing the issue for two days, and it appeared that the members did not understand it.
“As a result of this, you have read a letter above to that effect, it’s no longer appropriate to discuss this issue here. To maintain and not to tamper with evidence, I will remove the complainant and when this issue is sorted with him, he will be returned,” posted Asinguza. Other members such as a one Solita commented saying “Nitukeenda”, meaning we still want him, while Nancy Anita demanded to know if at the moment the group activities were being put on halt.
To support his case, Baitwababo also included a screenshot of his conversation with Asinguza, in which he had served him a letter regarding his complaint. Asinguza read the message but did not respond to it.
Our reporter was unable to get the two parties to comment on the ruling by the time of publishing this story.