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Ugandan who won court case after he was kicked out of WhatsApp group speaks

On June 20,2023, Ugandan man Herbert Baitwababo, won a lawsuit against a WhatsApp group administrator who removed him from the ‘Buyanja My Roots’ group in May 2023 after he raised financial management questions.

The court ordered that Mr Baitwababo be re-instated in the group and a permanent injunction issued that he must never be removed from the group again.

“Membership fee is USh 30,000 (Sh 1,146.94) and you keep on replying to a call if someone loses a dear one, we contribute. If there is like a medical camp to treat our people who cannot get treatment, we contribute. If there is a calamity in school like a burnt dormitory, we contribute. Such and such scenes,” began Mr Baitwababo.

His being removed from the group occurred after his continued insistence that the group administrator account for all the monies contributed by members.

“I raised the question ‘We have been paying the money since 2017. Can you give us accountability? Can you please tell us, is this a legal entity or it is a sweep away organization? What is your mandate? How do you manage it so that we know what type of entity we are dealing with.’ He gave reasons that he has removed me,” continued Mr Baitwababo.

According to Mr Baitwababo’s lawyer, the case was won in a court in Makindye division, Kampala, based on the laws surrounding rights to fair hearing freedom of association and the Human Rights Enforcement Act 2019 which touches on how one can enforce their rights.

“It is hereby ordered that the applicant be ordered back to the ‘Buyanja My Roots’ WhatsApp group. A permanent injunction is also issued restraining the respondent, his agents or his assignees from further infringing on the applicant’s right of association,” said the Magistrate in his ruling last week.

Should the WhatsApp admin not add him to the other related groups,  he will be found in contempt and could be arrested and jailed. The admin could also be heftily fined for disobeying court orders.

Community WhatsApp groups continue to gain popularity due to the ease of communication with several members, instant updates, enhanced social connectivity, localized networking, efficient organization and coordination as well as serving as a hub for information sharing and support.

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