A citizen of Rwanda that recently was dumped at the border by members of the Ugandan military is nursing life-threatening injuries. He says he was battered by the Ugandan army men who accused him of having been “sent by Kigali to spread coronavirus among Ugandans.”
He was with a colleague, that has remained in the custody of the soldiers, whom he fears “could be dead now”.
Emmanuel Nambajimana is currently admitted at Byumba Hospital in Gicumbi District where he was taken on Sunday, March 29.
In the company of his colleague, only identified as Habineza, they both arrived in Kabale early on Saturday, March 28, en route from Jinja in eastern Uganda where the duo has lived for over two years, operating a honey-trading business.
“The moment we alighted the car that dropped us off, Ugandan policemen arrested us and accused us of being “agents from Rwanda sent to spread coronavirus in Uganda,” said Nambajimana who was clearly in excruciating pain.
He added: “We pleaded with them that we have lived in Uganda for over two years and have not been to Rwanda since then, but they would not listen.” He said that they were immediately taken to test for COVID-19 after which they were driven off.
“We thought they were taking us back home (Rwanda) but we were wrong; they instead took us to a military base near the border with Rwanda and this is where our ordeal began,” narrated Nambajimana.
He said that upon arriving at the military base, their documents and other belongings were confiscated and then the beating started. They were surrounded and soldiers were beating them up using electric cables and sticks.
After a whole day of this kind of abuse, a Ugandan officer decided to have him carried away. The army man had residents around the military base carry the Rwandan away, to be dumped near the border.
“From there, I was noticed by children who were grazing cows on the Rwandan side and that is how I ended up here. However I do not know where Habineza is; he could even be dead by now,” said Nambajimana.
By the time of the interview, he had undergone a scan and awaiting results to show the scale of his injuries. He says he does not know where his colleague is and he fears he could have been killed by the soldiers.
“They also took 2.5 million shillings from me and other personal belongings I had with me,” he added.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out Ugandan officials seem to have come up with a strategy to scapegoat Rwanda with accusations her citizens are “spreading coronavirus in Uganda”.
Just last week, over 350 Rwandans were rounded up in different Ugandan towns and dumped at different ungazetted border areas over such accusations.
These people had lived in Uganda for years, with many operating thriving personal businesses. “What is sad is that they were rounded up and no precautions were taken to protect them against possible contamination by the many Ugandans possibly contracting COVID-19 from so many Ugandan nationals that came from Dubai, and entered their country through Entebbe,” said a health expert based in Kigali.
A flood of social media posts, as well as stories in mainstream Kampala media, have described how Ugandan ruling party bigwigs as well as military brass have been coming to Entebbe to pick relatives and friends, or even business partners, and driving away with these people, untested and un-quarantined.
Daily Monitor last week said up to 517 passengers were estimated by health officials to have left Entebbe completely unscreened.
Earlier, a documentary on NBS TV traced 40 Chinese that were reported to have bribed their way through the airport and left without undergoing testing or quarantine. NBS traced the Chinese nationals to an apartment building in the Naguru neighborhood where they were staying crammed together.
It has since been established that two of the Chinese nationals have tested positive to COVID-19.
No Rwandan has been tested positive for coronavirus in Uganda. “But for their own reasons, Ugandan authorities keep beating the drum that ‘Rwandans are taking coronavirus there.’ But we are used to these anti-Rwanda narratives and this too will be exposed,” said a senior Kigali administration official that preferred to speak off the record.