A mother-to-be’s joy on parting ways with militia in DR Congo

Spéciose Muhawenimana reveals how happy she is for having left the DR Congo jungles where she was held against her will. Emmanuel Kwizera

Spéciose Muhawenimana, 20, who was born in the Masisi, North Kivu Province in the DR Congo is eight and a half months pregnant.

In spite of being a former anti-Rwanda militia member in DR Congo, she appeared comforted to be at the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission Centre in Mutobo, Musanze District, when Sunday Times visited early this week.

Forcefully conscripted into the CNRD militia’s wing, FLN, in 2018, when she was considering marriage with her militia fighter boyfriend, Jean-Claude Nteziryimana, she never embraced military life.

The CNRD which is led by former FDLR vice president ‘Lt Gen’ Laurent Ndagijimana, alias, Wilson Irategeka or Rumbago, was formed in May 2016. Its military wing is led by ‘Lt Gen’ Habimana Hamada.

But Muhawenimana was allowed to leave the military wing soon after training, so she could go get married.

Towards the end of last year, she got a chance to escape and she took it. When the Congolese army stepped up its offensive against anti-Kigali terror groups in the country’s east, many Rwandans there – civilians and military – saw a chance to flee from their erstwhile masters who had been holding them hostage.

Last December, close to 2,000 militiamen and dependents of her former militia group were captured by the Congolese army (FARDC) and sent home, to Rwanda.

Muhawenimana and her family lived in a place called Kitendelo, in Kalehe territory of South Kivu.

Muhawenimana said: “I always wanted to come home but I didn’t know where to go. My parents were always in charge of my life. Right now, my mother is at Nyarushishi and my father is at Mukamira with my husband'

We all came in the same period after being sent back by the FARDC.”

“I am happy here. Life is better than in Congo. We feel more secure here.”

Muhawenimana who was told that her family originally comes from Kibuye noted how she is especially impressed by the fact that she is getting proper prenatal checkups and was given routine immunisations such as tetanus and polio and others.

She added: “These are not things I could have received in the Congolese jungle. I have been immunized and given more medical care than I ever imagined.”

“People here respect human rights. I am safe and there are food and clean water.”


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