Ugandan authorities have deported another Rwandan businessman who was picked up from Owino Market by operatives attached to Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, he said.
“Long walk to freedom”
On October 8, 2018, Patrick Niyigena, a Remera-based businessman, was on his way to Nairobi where he was supposed to buy refrigerator spare parts for retail in Kigali, but had a 2 hour stopover in Kampala. He decided to leave the bus terminal and go meet a friend in town and do some shopping in Owino Market.
He first met with a friend, identified as Vincent, at Garden City who gave him $1400 to buy him some stuff in Kenya. On his return to the bus terminal, he passed by the market from where he met three young men in their late 20s who forced him into a waiting black tinted car and drove him off to a safe house, which he suspects it could be located in Natete, a Kampala suburb.
He spent three days under the custody of the some armed civilians with hands and legs tied in an isolated house with several people who kept asking him if he was a soldier in the Rwandan army.
“I was instantly being kicked in the ribs and asked if I was a Rwandan spy. I told them that I was an ordinary businessman but they couldn’t listen. I was badly beaten,” weak -looking Niyigena narrated.
“One evening, a guy came into the room I was and told me that he was going to inject me with medicine to help recover from the pain faster. I refused until he told me that it was the order from his boss and they had to force me take the injection with some liquid substance. After the injection, I got weaker and passed out for a long while,” he added.
Upon regaining consciousness, Niyigena was dropped back at Trinity Bus by the same operatives and ordered him to “go back to Rwanda.”
“I had $1000 plus the $1400 that my friend gave me and UGX30,000, all that was taken.. They even took my travel documents and Identity Card. When I asked them to at least return my documents, they slapped me,” Niyigena said.
“I narrated my story to a random man at the bus terminal, working with Trinity Bus, and asked him to get me a taxi moto to the Rwanda embassy which he did,” he narrated.
It was at the Rwandan High Commission in Kampala that Niyigena got a proper meal, taken to old Kampala Police Station to record a statement and was later given a travel document to travel back to Rwanda.
“A Ugandan police officer told me that I was among the many similar cases they had registered in about 2 weeks.”
Late last year, several Rwandan business operators faced similar ordeals, before they were dropped at the border after enduring torture for several days and handed to Rwandan authorities.
Most left their businesses behind.
Niyigena sad that he previously heard about the cases of Rwandans being illegally arrested or kidnapped in Uganda: “But I took them lightly until it happened to me”.
“I have travelled regularly to Uganda, I was there in July and last year in February and never thought it would happen to me. I urge Rwandan business people who go shopping in Uganda to always go in groups such that they act as their friends’ keepers. If you can’t go in a group, I would advise that you not to go there.”
He appealed to the government to take him for medical treatment to establish the substance he was injected with.
Meanwhile, last Thursday, 25 Rwandan nationals are reported to have been sentenced to one year imprisonment by Kisoro Grade One Magistrate, in Uganda, over “illegal entry”.