Big-hearted clergyman who sacrificed his life for his flock
As the horrors of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi unfolded, there were several brave people that dared to shelter, feed, and look after the men, women and children who were the targets of Interahamwe militias.
As fate would have it though, those valiant individuals became targets –and later victims in many cases- of the machete-wielding militiamen.
On April 21, 1994, just three days after the start of the killings in the Cyanika area, Father Joseph Niyomugabo was killed in his attempts to protect Tutsis who had sought refuge at the Cyanika Catholic Parish that he headed.
Over 25,000 Tutsis who had sought refuge were gruesomely and cruelly killed by Interahamwe militias at the church during the 1994 Genocide.
Currently, the victims are interred at a memorial site erected just a few metres from the church. Father Niyomugabo is one of those buried at the site at a ceremony held on February 26, 2012.
During the ceremony, survivors described horrific and shocking scenes of the death of the man of God. One of them testified how the priest was “paraded naked before being killed”, in what was described as an attempt to deride him.