Residents of Burera District were recently left in disbelief after it emerged that one of their own was among the group of attackers that raided Kinigi, Musanze District earlier this month killing 15 civilians.
Théoneste Habumukiza, a University of Rwanda graduate, was one of five assailants that security organs captured and paraded before the media on Sunday.
They belong to RUD Urunana allied to Rwanda National Congress (RNC) to form an outfit known as 'P5'. It is \a splinter group of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda).
Habumukiza particularly originates from Bushima Village, Kiribata Cell, Rugengabare Sector in Burera District in the Northern Province.
The New Times caught up with Habumukiza’s former friends and neighbors as well as local leaders who know him since his childhood.
“It is very difficult to explain,” one of Habumukiza’s close friends said.
“We were ashamed to hear that our friend from childhood was part of the assailants who killed innocent civilians yet the Government did a lot to support him”.
“He pursued primary, secondary and tertiary education with the assistance of the government because his family is poor. Getting involved in terror acts for a person like him is a total disgrace; justice has to do its job seriously,” he noted.
Evariste Bagirubwira, the chief of Bushima Village, said Habumukiza had the most tainted history yet he was the most educated in his village.
“After graduating from the University of Rwanda, Habumukiza was appointed to coordinate activities to build terraces in this area. The poorest people were employed on the project but unfortunately, he would deduct Rwf200 of the Rwf 1,000 daily from every employee. It caused a lot of unrest and he was subsequently fired,” said Bagirubwira
He added that after being fired from the terrace project, Habumukiza got another public job in erecting electric poles as a team leader of nearly a hundred residents and he fled with their money.
Speaking to The New Times, Baltazar Mpundwa, Habumukiza’ father of said he had been aware of his son’s misconduct but stressing he never thought his son could aim to join negative forces.
“My heart is about to burst because of my son, I am really shocked and I can’t easily explain how I feel right now,” he said with grief.
“I already knew that he was not perfect; he used to tell me lies many times (…) If I were to meet my son I would ask him what he lacked in order to betray his country. I expect our courts of law to hold him accountable for the inhumane acts they did to innocent civilians,” added Mpundwa.
Mpundwa revealed prior to going to Uganda to pursue a master’s studies early this year, his son had been working with Radiant insurance company.
“He called me once saying that he was studying at Makerere University. Later his phone was unreachable until I heard in the media that he was among the captured assailants,” he noted.
According to accounts by his father, Habumukiza is the firstborn among eight children. He was born in 1988 in Bushima Village.
He pursued his primary education at Ecole Primaire de Rugengabare a few kilometres away from his home. When he reached secondary school Habumukiza studied at three different schools in three districts “due to his misconduct,” his father said.
“He would get expelled at the end of every year due to various mistakes that schools could not tolerate,” said Mpundwa without divulging the kind of mistakes.
Mpundwa explained that his son studied senior one at Groupe Scolaire Marie Reine de Rwaza, a private school in Musanze District. After being expelled he went to Groupe Scolaire Nyamugari in Rulindo District to study senior two, he was also sent home and moved to Groupe Scolaire Kamubuga in Burera District where he completed the ordinary level.
Habumukiza studied Advanced Level at Groupe Saint Bernadette de Save in Gisagara District, Southern Province.
He then went to the University of Rwanda- College of Business and Economics where he graduated in 2016.