Five members of the executive committee of Duterimbere Murundi, a rice growers’ cooperative in Murundi Sector, Kayonza District, were arrested on Tuesday over embezzlement.
Those arrested include the president of the cooperative, Evariste Niyireba; the manager, Pauline Mukashimwe; and the secretary, Jerome Uwihanganye.
Others are harvest coordinator Gido Nyandwi, and a councillor Mary Hangayika, all suspected of having connived to embezzle over Rwf8.5 million from the coop.
The Police Spokesperson for Eastern Province, Emmanuel Kayigi, confirmed the arrest and said the suspects are currently held at Rukara Police Station in Kayonza District.
“The five were reported by members of the cooperative on December 19, last year, but we needed to investigate to authenticate the claims. We asked Rwanda Cooperatives Agency (RCA) to audit the cooperative and we got the report on January 3,” he said, adding that the report confirmed that the funds were missing.
Kayigi said the suspects were cooperative and have accepted their role in the theft.
“So far, they have accepted what they are accused of and most of them are accusing each other even of several other things,” he said.
Jean de Dieu Mitali, RCA’s chief inspector of cooperatives in Eastern Province, said when they were asked by Police to audit the coop, they found many loopholes in the bookkeeping.
“For example, we found instances where the committee claimed to have paid an amount of money to a member whose harvest was far below the indicated volume, which means that the committee connived to pocket the extra money,’’ he said.
Duterimbere Murundi cooperative has 1,576 members who grow rice on 400 hectares of marshland.