Eleven detained as 53-year old Gisagara man is shot dead
GISAGARA – Residents of Mukindo Sector, Gisagara District, are in shock following the death of a 53-years-old man who was shot dead Sunday night.
The incident occurred at around 11:40pm, according to witness accounts.
Residents told The New Times that the last bullet was heard at around midnight.
The deceased was identified as Alexandre Nkuliza a.k.a Sasaba. His wife, Agnes Nyirabashyitsi, 52, was seriously injured in the shooting and, by press time, was still under intensive treatment at Kibilizi Hospital.
Nkuliza, a resident of Kimana Village, Mukiza cell, is survived by four children.
By press time, eleven people had been detained in connection with the murder but investigations were still underway, according to Supt Theos Badege, the Police Spokesperson. They are all held at Ndora police station, Gisagara District.
When The New Times visited the area yesterday, residents were still in shock. A group of them gave a guided tour of the deceased’s house to this reporter, showing blood stains on the floor-with some areas covered with ashes.
The door to one of the rooms was partly smashed, and residents showed a big rock which they suspect the assailants used to force their way into the room the couple was sleeping in.
Egidie Nyirabizeyimana, a daughter to the deceased, told this paper the assailants were as many as five people.
“I saw two of them inside the house and I could hear others discussing outside,” she said.
She recounted how she was “terrified and horrified” by the attack.
“They first broke the outside door using the rock. My parents started yelling, calling for help. They immediately shot the first bullet,” she narrated.
“They came to our room. My brother was hiding under the bed. Though I was terrified, I realised we could not both hide there so I decided to remain seated on the bed,” she said adding that the assailants asked for an axe, but she told them they did not own one.
“They immediately forced their way to the room [of my parents]. We heard bullets being fired and we could no longer hear the voices of our parents. They immediately left”.
Residents said that before leaving, the attackers also went to the house of one Alfred Yirirwahandi, where they fired bullets.
The latter said that he survived by hiding in the ceiling, but added the attackers might have gone thinking they killed him too.
“They fired a bullet in the roof and as neighbours started to gather in the surroundings, the assassins fled,” he said.
It is not yet clear what is behind the attack as the suspects did not take anything from their victims except ‘some clothes’.
However, some locals pointed an accusing finger at some ill-intentioned Burundians whom they accuse of regular raids on the Rwandan side to rob money and property from local residents.
But Police sources and local leaders said they are yet to identify any evidence supporting the allegations.
Eyewitnesses told The New Times the attackers spoke Kinyarwanda but said they had never seen them.
Police Spokesperson, Supt Theos Badege, told this paper in a phone interview, that preliminary investigations indicate that the deceased might have been killed as a result of a long-standing land wrangle he had with his relatives
Most of the suspects currently under detention are relatives of the deceased, Badege said.
“We urge the community, once again, not to take the law into their hands to the extent of murdering one another; in case of a conflict, there are institutions which might assist in settling such misunderstandings...the justice sector is well functioning, local leaders are there to help them, there are the police and other security organs...there is no reason why people should act like that,” he said.
At least three murders have occurred in this area since 2006, while two people were wounded in similar attacks.
Burundians were almost always cited as taking part in the attacks which happen a few kilometres from the Rwanda-Burundi border.
However, eyewitnesses said the recent attack seems different from the others: in the past, assailants used to take money and property, but this time they took nothing.
For the past three months, murder cases have been seemingly on the increase in the Southern Province.
In April, for instance, a 32-year old man in Ruhango District “stoned’ his wife to death over what was termed as a “long history of conflicts” between the couple.
And in May, a 30-year old man in Tumba Sector, Huye District, succumbed to injuries sustained after allegedly being bludgeoned with a hammer on the back of his head.
Earlier this month, three people were detained at Kinazi police post in Ruhango District over the suspected murder of a 32-year-old woman. And, in Nyaruguru District, a four-year-old boy died after allegedly being poisoned with a liquid substance, locally known as Simikombe.
These are some of the examples of the alleged cases of murder since April. But, others went unreported.
These statistics may seem as if the crime rates have increased in the province. But, according to Supt Badege, this is not true.
He attributed the perceived increase to ‘improved media coverage’ of such incidents.
“The Police might have been much more effective in reporting such cases. In addition, media also have put much importance in covering such incidents,” he said.
“There is no increase in the crime rate,” Badege insisted.
Supt Badege said most murder cases are related to social issues like land wrangles which, he said, have for long been a source of quarrels and conflicts among families. He also cited superstitious belief as one cause of murder, condemning “ignorance of some residents who still believe in superstition”.