Fact Check – Ugandan Police Spokesperson Failed To Hit Journalist With Catapult Projectile For Asking Irrelevant Question

Uganda Police Force spokesman Fred Enanga did not hit a journalist with a projectile fired from a catapult after they asked him an irrelevant question, contrary to claims online. A photo of Enanga appearing to aim a catapult was taken out of context.

A version of the image has amassed over 150 shares on Facebook (here) after being posted by a profile with over 3.6 million followers.

It bears the caption: ‘Newly appointed Ugandan police spokesman hits journalist with caterpillar [sic] for asking an irrelevant question. It was also posted on the user’s Instagram page (here) where he received over 20,000 likes.

Similar claims were made on Facebook (here, here, here and here) and Twitter (here, here and here), where it has been shared thousands of times.

However, the image lacks important context. Although it shows Enanga (here) pulling back the rubber band of a sling during a press conference, the weapon was not loaded with a projectile.

The photo goes back to a YouTube video from April 13, 2021 (here) – posted on the channel of UBC Television Uganda, the country’s national broadcaster – which is entitled: “UGANDAN POLICE TIGHTEN VIGILANCE AGAINST CATAPULT GANGS”.

In the footage, the spokesman is seen demonstrating to reporters how the catapults work after police seized several belonging to criminal gangs who had illegally imported them into Uganda.

During the demonstration, which consisted of stepping back and letting go of the empty slingshot, Enanga can be heard saying, “That’s very dangerous, huh? So you do that and then you target someone. So you can see how dangerous this thing is.

He goes on to explain that the guns are used by criminals to fire metal projectiles and clay balls, before asking anyone who owns one to turn it over to the police.

The report of the press conference is available here and a relevant Uganda Police (UPF) press release can be viewed here.

The application has been subject to several factual checks (here, here and here) and was also recognized by Ugandan police, according to a Kenyan report (here).

Additionally, Enanga was appointed spokesperson for the UPF in January 2019, according to reports (here, here, here and here), and is therefore not newly appointed to this position.

VERDICT

Missing context. Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga aimed a slingshot at reporters during a press conference; however, this was to demonstrate the tool and was not used in a threatening manner. The catapult was also not loaded.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Learn more about our fact-checking work here.