How much is a human life worth? $500?

  • By Sunny Ntayombya
  • January 09, 2013
Sunny Ntayombya

First of all, I want to reiterate the fact that only a judge can hand down a ‘guilty’ verdict; not the police, not a newspaper and certainly not a humdrum columnist like myself. I will not, and cannot, in good conscience comment on whether or not Dr. Radjabu Mbukani was murdered by the mother of his children, that is for the court to decide.

The gynecology lecturer, who taught at the National University of Rwanda’s medical school, was found murdered last Thursday in Kanyinya in Kigali, having been bludgeoned to death.

The police officers investigating the case believe that his estranged partner, for monetary reasons, sought out two young men to do the deed. Yesterday, one of the young men, Jean Paul Cyuma, a 32 year old cobbler by profession, pensively confessed to the crime, telling The New Times reporter who interviewed him that he murdered the doctor for 300,000 francs because he, and his colleague, were “tempted by the money and nothing else”.

While I’m sure the entire sordid tale is probably much more complex than the above paragraph makes it out to be, as we shall surely learn when the case is heard in court, what I’m really shocked about is just how ‘cheap’ this hit was. I mean, if a medical expert can be killed for less than five hundred dollars, how safe are the rest of us? I can only imagine that a journalist like me can be sent to the other side for a few thousand francs. Secondly, just how desperate does a man have to be to commit this crime for such a pitiful sum? I mean, let’s be honest here, you can’t even buy a healthy cow for that amount.

Among the myriad of reasons that experts use to explain the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is poverty.  This ‘poverty theory’ is one promoted by attorney and anthropologist Paul Magnarella, chair of the Peace Studies Program at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. He argues, “While social and political imbalances contributed to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, extreme poverty was the predominant factor that led to the killings”.

Well, I’ll be honest here and say that I’m sick and tired of poverty being an excuse for murder (in the good doctor’s case) and Genocide. There are plenty of people who live in poverty, including here in Rwanda, but you don’t see them becoming paid assassins do you? Or genocidaires?

If the suspect is found guilty for the doctor’s murder and jailed, all I’ll feel is sadness. This is because, no matter the punishment handed down, one of the best doctors in the country will not treat any more women or teach another class. And his two children will grow up without a father.

While I’m on this topic, I want to pen my discomfort with the manner which police sometimes handle suspects. I still remember watching handcuffed suspects being paraded in front of television camera, confessing to all sorts of crimes. I find it uncomfortable seeing men and women paraded thus because I feel that it undermines a central tenet of law, the ‘presumption of innocence’.

Everyone is presumed innocent until they are found guilty by a competent court. I understand that the Police is trying to do the public a service by granting media access to ‘juicy stories’, but let’s be honest here, how many people have been successfully prosecuted and found guilty? Even if the prosecution is successful ninety-nine out of a hundred times, that means that one innocent person is unfairly paraded before the cameras. And let’s be honest here, how many times do we read in a newspaper or watch on television that some small fry was found innocent? Never.

So, while it seems that it’s easy to besmirch someone’s name, restoring it is another thing altogether. I mean, how many people would hire someone whose been paraded by police on Rwanda Television? I certainly wouldn’t. How many would consider a romantic relationship with them? How many would engage in business with them? Not too many. I think that these ‘parades’ need to be reassessed.

Contact email: sunny.ntayombya[at]newtimes.co.rw Twitter: sannykigali Blog: sunnyntayombya.wordpress.com


if the guy has admitted killing the Doctor, what other court are you looking for ? he should go straight to jail.

13:01:25 Wednesday 09th, January 2013 kigali - Justin Rwema

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Congratulations to Mr Sunny Ntayombya for raising this crucial albeit neglected issue. For sure, I can not fathom how our Police with all law trained officers that they have in their ranks, can unanxiously parade suspects whilst they are well aware that some of them would possibly be found not guilty. I am no lawyer, but I think it high time people started looking into whether by parading these so called self-confessed criminals, the Police does not hand down their verdict even before they are brought to book.

14:54:13 Wednesday 09th, January 2013 Kigali - Kenneth Mweine

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1.If i was running the cid i would treat this as an unresolved murder. Why? the lady who allegedly hired the assassins is denying and the assassin's confession leaves many gaps. eg, from what is reported one cant see what informed the choice of assassins, concretely why this lady decided to kill the father of her kids, where the iron bars could be now, whether its true these are first time assassins,whether they knew each other before, no one has reported about blood or blood socked something recovered from somewhere- didnt the Dr bleed?, did they wear gloves or they carried the body with hands? was that aspect scientifically checked? size of house, where the body lay for hours on end, proximity to where the car was, lighting.... etc. if they get to court and deny the prosecutors will have a had time. I would open up the whole of this story and verify it piece by piece. Then I would interrogate the suspects on every imaginable detail that makes this story believable.

15:49:03 Wednesday 09th, January 2013 gikondo - rafiki

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..bow your hats dude, this guy Sunny has the heaviest balls on earth, to dare criticizing the police and bring the point: it is enough when the police arrest and investigate and hand-over suspect to courts. But again, knowing our police guys and how hard they strive to be the best, they would not do this without being sure...remember dear Sunny, a guy named Strauss-Kahn who was paraded by the NYPD? Believe me, he will find another job.. and the job (voted for instance). My point: we need to evolve and understand that a mistake paid for, is gone, and consider the person independantly from that... All the best!

16:54:46 Wednesday 09th, January 2013 Vienna - Will

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Thanks Rafiki, police should not be selling and reselling this story. They are investigating a murder and not defending themselves against it. They should spend more time verifying this, in my view,not yet believable story as well as presuming the existance of another, more plausible, one. Using my psychology and looking in the faces of the suspects I cant help feeling that they might be telling the public one version of "the truth" and yet sitting on the actual true version. It serves better getting to the bottom of such a murder after a long inquiry rather than bangling it up in a hurry to showbiz. We've had other murders carried out in the same way as this particular one- Rwisereka, Rutayisire, Rutagarama-the police are still quietly investigating them, the public are patiently waiting.

17:25:04 Wednesday 09th, January 2013 KIE Remera - mbuto

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