Rwandan woman collapses, dies in Uganda near Cyanika border

Cyanika border between Rwanda and Uganda. File

A Rwandan woman, identified as Elisabeth Mukarugwiza, Wednesday morning collapsed and died near Cyanika border post on the Ugandan side.

Mukarugwiza, 38, a local businesswoman, had crossed illegally to Uganda when the incident occurred.

Passersby quickly intervened and efforts to rush her to hospital were blocked by Ugandan soldiers camped nearby, who could not let them onto the Ugandan side to offer emergency assistance.

The resident of Kinigi Sector, in Musanze District who according to a family source traded in Bitenge, died shortly after without getting any medical help.

Officials clarified that the deceased was not from the community around the border as alleged in sections of Ugandan blogs, some of which claimed she was crossing to get food from Uganda.

The border is in Burera District while she is a resident of Musanze and this is where she conducted her business.

Speaking to The New Times, Fred Rudasingwa, the executive secretary of Kinigi Sector dismissed claims that the deceased was crossing to look for food.

"That is not true, we do not have any problem of hunger in Kinigi; this area is well known for the plantation of Irish potatoes and vegetables which is not only used for subsistence purpose but also plenty they take to the market,” Rudasingwa said.

He added: “Actually Ugandans and Congolese are among the people to whom people sell their Irish potatoes and vegetables.”

This was stressed by Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Governor of Northern Province, who said he personally knew the family of the deceased.

“Her husband is a public servant who earns a good salary and the wife has been into business; this is not a person who would cross to look for food from across the border. Besides, the sector where she is resident is a significant distance from the border,” he said.

Her body was repatriated back to Rwanda later in the afternoon after protracted talks between Rwandan and Ugandan officials.

When Mukarugwiza collapsed in the morning, Commaders of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) battalion refused all attempts by Rwandan authorities for a quick evacuation for medical treatment that could have saved her life. 

The body has now been taken to Ruhengeri Hospital where a postmortem will be carried to ascertain the actual cause of death and also establish whether she was expecting a child as claimed by Ugandan media, officials from Rwanda’s Immigration Department said.

Rwanda has of recent been advising its citizens not travel to Uganda after hundreds  of Rwandans have been abducted, arrested, tortured and incarcerated incommunicado.

Many Rwandans have been dumped at the border after torture and long periods of illegal detention without any legal proceedings, and robbed of their money to buy their freedom.