Officials in Burera District have called for the repatriation of the remains of a Rwandan who was last week brutally murdered in Uganda, so that he can be given a decent burial.
The deceased, identified as Félicien Mbonabakeka, a 35-year-old father of four, was attacked and killed by a mob of villagers in Uganda on December 31, 2019.
He was later hurriedly buried by the police in the neighbouring country.
News of his cold blood murder was broken to his family by another Rwandan, Emmanuel Nsabimana, who escaped what he described as the systematic violence against Rwandan nationals by a gang in Uganda’s south-western district of Kisoro.
Mbonabakeka was living in Gakori, Kisoro where he had worked as a casual labourer for eight years and regularly travelled back home to Burera in Rwanda where his family lives, Nsabimana said.
According to Nsabimana, who was the deceased’s neighbour in Kisoro, Mbonabakeka was murdered by a gang of youth “who are hunting” Rwandan nationals on Ugandan territory.
He said that Mbonabakeka was hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants as raised his voice (from his home) calling for help for a neighbour, another Rwandan named Denys Bayavuge, whose home had been attacked by the mob.
“He was killed trying to save the life of another Rwandan neighbour who was in danger as the gang were breaking into his house,” he told The New Times.
On hearing Mbonabakeka, the assailants left Bayavuge’s home and instead attacked his.
After killing him with machetes and other crude weapons, Nsabimana said, the assailants fled the scene carrying his body with them.
Nsabimana said he risked his life and tracked the assailants who demanded millions of Ugandan Shillings in exchange for the corpse, he said.
“Since I could not raise the money, I informed his family back in Rwanda and before they could get back to me, his landlord intervened and gave money to the police so as to have his body handed over to us,” noted Nsabimana.
However, the police hurriedly buried Mbonabakeka in secrecy, he said, adding that none of his relatives or friends were present.
When The New Times visited the grieving widow, Béatrice Mukamazera, at the family home, she was still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her husband.
“We are broken and speechless, how could they not even allow us a chance to bury him?” she said, sobbing.
Simon Hitimana, the father to the deceased, wondered why the Ugandan government could not allow the deceased’s loved ones to collect his body and accord him decent burial.
“It’s an unbearable pain to learn that your child was murdered in cold blood and you were denied a chance to say goodbye to him and lay him to rest,” he lamented.
Officials speak out
Speaking to The New Times on Monday, Burera District mayor Marie Chantal Uwanyirigira, said the district will not turn a deaf ear to the calls by the family to have their loved one repatriated for a decent burial.
“It is a serious and legitimate concern because they were denied a chance to say goodbye to him and lay him to rest, besides that, what Uganda did is against the Rwandan culture,” she said
“We are currently consulting with concerned organs to look for ways the remains of our compatriot can be repatriated to his home country,” added Uwanyirigira
The mayor went on to say that other institutions including the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration were also closely following on the matter.
Addressing the media last week, the Northern Province Governor Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi said that at least 73 Rwandans who hail from the province were still held incommunicado in Uganda.
Forty-four of them are from Burera District, he said.
Uganda has over the past two years intensified abduction of Rwandans found in their territory where many have been held for months in ungazetted detention facilities before they are dumped at the Rwandan border.
By mid-last month, over1400 Rwandans had been dumped at different border points with Uganda.