NYAGATARE- When 14-year-old Esther Mutesi woke up little did she know that it was her last day on earth.
In the usual daily routine she helped her parents with domestic chores as she had normally done.
At about mid-day a months ago, Mutesi braved the scotching sun, along with her friends to go and fetch water from Akagera River, a few kilometres from her home located in Rwimiyaga sector Nyagatare district.
No sooner had Mutesi started drawing the water, than a ravenous crocodile grabbed her by the neck.
“She shouted once and we could not see her again. We too started shouting immediately but to no avail. We were very scared and crying…no one could even attempt to run a way back home,” narrates Mutesi’s former friend, Juliet Akoguteta, aged 13.
“We could not manage to rescue her as her voice could no longer be heard, but we wanted to stay and see if she could reappear.”
Akoguteta and other colleagues of the late Mutesi, says as children the only option they had was to shout for help, as they could not fight the crocodile.
“We could not fight such an animal like a crocodile. Old people arrived minutes after it had dragged her a way,” says another girl with whom they were.
Swimmers spent the whole day searching for the body of the child but not even a single part could be traced.
Later, a special National Police Marine force, led by Chief Supt Jean Baptiste Seminega, intervened to circumnavigate the water but to no avail- after searching in a radius of 20 kilometres.
“We spent six hours in the river with area residents, swum twenty kilometres but finally gave up that Mutesi was eaten by crocodiles,” the officer said.
Residents call on RDB tourism department to intervene
Residents have called for Rwanda Development Board’s tourism department, to intervene and fence the river.
“You see when an animal has been killed those people intervene to prosecute the suspect. Why can’t they then fence off their river to protect residents?” a resident asked.
According to residents, it was not the first time a resident was killed by crocodiles in River Akagera. “It’s a damning threat to us.
Late Mutesi is the second to be eaten by crocodiles in this river this year, while six others were seriously injured by these reptiles,” Alex Rukangira a resident of Rwimiyaga Sector said, adding that even their cattle have been victim to the crocodiles.
“Close to six cows have so far been killed by animals this year. It’s both human and material loss we are incurring,” said Rukangira.
The residents blamed the district authorities for failing to extend piped water near to them.
The RDB’s representative in the area, Fidel Sebatware says that the law protecting residents attacked by animals is not yet out, but the tourism department provides burial support to any of such victims.
River Akagera water contaminated
Rwimiyaga residents and others from neighbouring sectors depending on water from River Kagera also say the water could be contaminated.
The residents have reported the matter to local authorities but nothing has been done.
“Apart from the animals that kill people and our cows, we are also worried this water could be contaminated. We request the government to help us get clean water. We are ready to contribute towards the project… be it buying generators and other necessities,” said Jacqueline Nyinawumuntu, an area resident said.