A month before Rwanda issued a travel advisory against Rwandan nationals traveling to Uganda, Jean-Claude Dusabimana, 29, travelled to the neighboring country to get help from traditional healers there.
He had strange ailments and had been informed that there is a good traditional ‘doctor’ there who could help him.
So, on February 24, this year, he left his home in Kayonza District and headed to Jinja, a town in eastern Uganda, on the shores of Lake Victoria where he met his ‘doctor.’
Weeks later, after he was done with consultations, he boarded a bus to return home.
Security operatives stopped the bus. He and other Rwandans aboard were forced out. They would not continue the journey.
They, like other unfortunate compatriots before, were accused of being Rwandan spies.
Dusabimana’s captors mercilessly hit him with a hard stick on the feet inflicting him with injuries.
The young man walks with a limp and is often writhing in pain.
“They never stopped beating me, all the time asking, ‘are you a soldier?’ After a while my entire body and clothes were drenched in blood,” he told journalists yesterday.
“They were beating me so that I agree to their line of questioning; they wanted me to admit that I was a soldier but I couldn’t because I am not.”
Luckily, they released him and took the others. He thinks it is because they had already damaged him enough.
“I was left behind with a police officer who kept interrogating me but later let me go and I headed to Rubare, by hitchhiking. I got there late in the night and spent the night on the verandah of a clinic.”
A nurse found him lying in a terrible condition the next morning.
Niyonzima, 21, spent 16 months in detention, making bricks
For Wilson Niyonzima, 21, from Burera District, however, the story is different.
Niyonzima went to Uganda in May last year trying to escape mistreatment at home.
“I was always quarreling with my parents. I decided to go to Uganda and try to work and earn my own living. I had a plan to earn some money, buy a bicycle and return home and start my business.”
At the Cyanika border crossing, he was given a temporary travel permit.
But in the evening, he was arrested and thrown into a police cell. Later, he was taken to court, found guilty of being in the country illegally and handed a two-year sentence.
He was asked to pay UgShs2 million, so he could be set free but he did not have it.
He ended up spending 16 months in prison as they eventually deducted eight months on the prison term.
The 16 months in detention were a nightmare, he said.
He was jailed in Ndorwa prison in Kabale where he spent all his days making bricks, from early morning till sunset.
Niyonzima is not the only deportee who has shared chilling accounts of life in a Ugandan prison ever since relations between the two countries took a dip two years ago.
Niyonzima was deported on August 31.
“In the prison in Ndorwa, I left about 30 Rwandans. Like me, their crime was being a Rwandan. They said we were not allowed to go to Uganda. In Kisoro, there were about 40 others too, all suffering so much.”
“There are horrible conditions in these prisons; disease, hard labor and constant beatings every day. Uganda is just no place for Rwandans lately. I think my fellow young men are better off striving to get a better life here at home.”
Uganda is linked to several anti-Kigali armed groups, including FDLR, the offshoot of forces and militia largely blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, and FLN, which last year made incursions on Rwandan territory through Burundi, killing at least nine civilians and wounding several others.
Evidence has also surfaced of Uganda’s support for RNC terrorist organization of fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa.
An agreement recently signed in Angola’s capital, Luanda, between President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, with the two leaders committing to work to relations has yielded nothing so far.