Three more Rwandans tortured in Uganda’s prisons return home

Three Rwandans returned to Kigali after enduring torture in Ugandan. Emmanuel Kwizera.

Three more Rwandans yesterday returned home after being subjected to intense torture in Ugandan prisons by Uganda’s military intelligence authorities. This is according to the accounts of the three men.

In February last year, both Appolinaire Munyakazi and Eric Nsengimana left their home village in Rutsiro District in Western Province and headed to Uganda seeking green pastures.

The two had been invited by a friend to go and look for alternative sources of income in Uganda. On their trip to Uganda, through Cyanika border, they were stopped in Kisoro, a town in the southwestern region of Uganda, before they could reach to their final destination.

“We boarded a bus thinking we were going to Uganda only to be stopped at a police station in Kisoro. They ordered every Rwandan to get out and the rest continued. They asked us our travel documents and we presented them. Instead of giving them back to us, we were told that we are under arrest,” Nsengimana, with a weary face, narrated.

Both the two, together with a few other Rwandans who had been held at Kisoro police station, were the following day taken to court and the judge said they had entered the country illegally even after presenting their travel documents.

In court, the two men said, the judge demanded Ugandan Shillings 1.5 million to release them or else serve a prison sentence of one year and six months.

“Those who had money gave it out and those who didn’t, including the two of us, had no choice but to serve our sentence. The judge said he was trying to favour us and instead of serving 18 months we would rather serve 12 months,” Nsengimana said.

Both Nsengimana and Munyakazi are fathers hailing from Mushonyi Sector. The two are also married men with Nsengimana being a father of two children.

A trip they thought would facilitate them to make a living off farming activities in Kabale District and support their families back at home turned into a worst nightmare they had never dreamt of.

According to Munyakazi, they spent two weeks at Kisoro police station before being transferred to Mparo prison in Kabale District. This is where they were subjected to regular hard labour for the rest of 12 months.

“We would wake up every day at 6am and go to parade where they would count us and brief us where we were going. We would spend the whole day digging, others making bricks and others transporting heavy trees for construction,” Munyakazi recounted of the unfortunate situation they were subjected to for a period of twelve months.

The two have prison forms releasing them after serving their prison sentence at Mparo prison. The forms were signed by John Twinamasiko, an officer at Mparo prison.

They were arrested on February 21, 2018 and released on March 4, 2019.

Then, there is Jotham Rukundo, a Gasabo resident, who had gone to Kampala to attend a crusade by Pastor Robert Kayanja.

“I went to see a friend called Edison who is based in Uganda who we planned to attend a crusade together. As we were returning home together with his two other friends Edison proposed that we pass at Kololo station so that he could get a temporary paper as he had lost his ID,” he said.

Rukundo explained that as they waited for his friend to come out, a security guard came and started questioning them why they had stayed outside, but before they could continue explaining they were forced into a vehicle.

They were driven to another place where they were further questioned on how they entered Uganda.

“We were held in a room that was shaped like a corridor and they would coarce us into telling them what we had come to do or else serve more time in a secret cell. After about five days we were transferred to Kireka police station where we spent about 10 days,” he said.

Rukundo, however, highlighted that before they were transferred to Kireka police station they had spent days blindfolded, hardly served with food, slept on wet floor and regularly heard people calling Chieftaining of Military Intelligence (CMI) officers in that secret cell.

Ugandan intelligence officers took him in on February 18 this year and released him on March 5, he said.