Body of deceased smuggler handed to Uganda

The casket containing remains of Théogene Ndagijimana removed from a Rwandan ambulance at Cyanika Border Post. (Photos Regis Umurengezi)

Rwandan officials on Wednesday handed over the body of a Ugandan national who was shot dead last Saturday, after he and three other smugglers tried to fight police officers who had intercepted them.

The man was identified as Theogene Ndagijimana.

Together with two of his Rwandan colleagues, they were shot by Rwanda National Police officers, after they tried to engage them with traditional weapons including spears and pangas.

According to police, the fourth suspect fled.

The incident took place on Rwanda territory within three kilometres from the border with Uganda – in Butare Village, Kabaya Cell, Kagogo Sector in Burera District.

The two Rwandans who were shot with the Ugandan have been identified as one Munyembazi and Eric Munezero.

The handover took place at the no man’s land of the Cyanika/Kyanika Border Post.

The body was, on the Ugandan side, received by a delegation headed by Peter Mugisha, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) of Kisoro District.

The Rwandan side was represented by Burera District mayor, Marie-Chantal Uwanyirigira, the advisor to Northern Province Governor Ferdinand Karake, and the deputy Northern Regional Police Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police Jean Bosco Rudasingwa.

Police paraded to media exhibits that the smuggler had which include bales of second hand clothes, liters of 'kanyanga' and three bags packed with tea. (Photo: Regis UMURENGEZI)

Uwanyirigira said it was unfortunate that leaders of the two countries were meeting over smuggling reasons. She told her Ugandan counterparts that Rwanda has on several occasions raised a red flag about illicit drugs and smuggling in the border areas.

“Our condolences to the bereaved families; it was not planned, it all happened because they (smugglers) were arrested and they tried to fight security personnel, which was uncalled for,” she noted, adding that the smugglers were determined to kill the police officers.

The police officers were on night patrol during the incident.

“The only message to all Rwandans and Ugandans is to respect the laws of either side of the border. For Rwanda, drug abuse is banned, just like drug trafficking. Smuggling is also prohibited, so is engaging security personnel in a fight,” she said.

She stressed that there was a lesson to be learnt from the incident, adding that there are gazetted border crossings which citizens of either side should be using instead of porous borders.
According to witness accounts, the smugglers had crossed into Rwanda through an ungazetted border crossing carrying 15 liters of crude gin (Kanyanga) and other merchandise that included two bales of secondhand clothes among others.

Following the incident, the bodies were taken to Ruhengeri Hospital.

The contraband and the weapons used by the smugglers to engage police were shown to the media on Wednesday.

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