NYAGATARE - Anonciata Mutungirehe, a mother of three wished to become a model farmer in Karama sector, Nyagatare District.
However, her dream was shattered after she was brutally hacked by her neighbour, Jean de Dieu Ntezirizaza who left her with no left arm and several cuts in the head.
Sitting on a veranda of her house in Gikundamvura cell, Karama sector, Mutungirehe recounts with sorrow how she was assaulted by her attacker on that fateful day. She blames local leaders for not taking swift actions against the attacker.
“You can see how he left me without an arm. I can no longer tend to gardens or fend for my children. But what pains me most is how local leaders are up to now handling my case,” she says.
In 2007, she says, Ntezirizaza attacked her house at night and cut her several times with a machete.
She screamed for help but security officials arrived when she had already been seriously assaulted and the attacker was arrested. She was rushed to Nyarurema Hospital in critical condition- where she spent one and a half years.
“The doctors could not put back my left arm,” she recalls.
After recovery, an assault case was filed at Karama Court of Lower Instance.
She won the case and the court order dated 22/09/2007, Gikundamvura cell leaders were required to auction Ntezirizaza’s land in order to compensate the woman.
But the land was not sold and consequently the victim has never been compensated.
Mutungirehe wonders why the same court ordered her attacker’s release.
“It is unbelievable for the court to have released this criminal.
And the local leaders have even failed to auction his land to compensate me for my terrible loss I incurred,” she said, adding that she is living a horrible life.
However, according to Gikundamvura cell Executive Secretary, Aaron Murengezi, Ntezirizaza was released after accepting to pay back all the damages to the victim.
Asked to expound on why the court order has not been followed , Murengezi says that the sector authorities found out that the attacker had a half hectare of land that could not be auctioned according to the law.
“Article No: 90 of the law governing land disputes forbids auctioning land that is less than a hectare.
We decided not to sell the accused’ s land. For the purposes of alternative compensation he has accepted to pay after getting the required money,” he said.
Children drop out of school
As is the case with the victim, Gikundamvura cell residents also blame leaders in the area for not punishing the accused.
‘No! It’s as if the leaders are protecting this criminal (Ntezirizaza). We are wondering why even the court ordered for his release. He committed such a serious offence,” Felicien Gahungu, one of residents said.
Lawrence Ntawumvayino, another resident said the victim should be looked after because she cannot manage to fend for her children.
One direct consequence of the grisly incidence is that the victim’s elder two sons dropped out of school.
“We could not jointly fend for the family and at the same time go to school. We decided to shelve going to school for the purposes of taking care of our mother and the family as well,” says 16-year-old Jean Damascene Nsengiyumva, the elder son.
However, Karama Sector Executive Secretary, Stanley Muganwa says he was not aware of the fact that Mutungirehe’s children dropped out of school.
“It’s my first time to hear about that. However if it is the truth then we have to tell them about the existence of an education fund in each cell of the sector which I think can be used to facilitate these children go back to school,” he said.
He added that the sector would organise residents to work in the victim’s gardens during community work.
Other sources say that Mutungirehe’s case was in 2008 forwarded to the office of the Ombudsman for intervention.