The Mayor of Muhanga District, Yvonne Mutakwasuku, has been accused of using her influence to prevent her husband from facing justice in a hit-and-run incident.
Residents allege that the Mayor influenced the release and acquittal of her husband, Joseph Desire Rutayisire, after he knocked to death two people and seriously injured another while driving under the influence of alcohol.
On February 6 2009, Rutayisire, who allegedly was in possession of a forged Burundian driving permit, knocked dead Esther Nyiranzagibwami and Announciata Mpire and injured Evode Habiyonizeye along the Kigali-Kamonyi road.
It is reported that despite the accident, Rutayisire, Rutayisire who had unknown persons in the car, continued to drive to his home in Gahogo, Muhanga District.
Police traced Rutayisire to his house and was found in possession of a forged 2005 Burundian permit. He was arrested and consequently arraigned in court in Muhanga.
According to relatives of the deceased, the suspect was later released under unclear circumstances and without the families of the deceased and injured persons receiving any compensation.
In a twist of events, a few months later, he was acquitted of the charges to the chagrin of the victim’s families.
It is alleged that the Prosecutor who was involved in the case, Beatrice Kamagaju, was also consequently suspended as a “result of influence peddling” from the Mayor.
In an Interview with The New Times, Kamagaju blamed her problems on the case and could not rule out influence peddling on Mutakwasuku’s side.
“I had finalised the case and I had all the evidence pinning Rutayisire. There was evidence that the permit was forged and there was also past evidence of accidents he had been involved in,” Kamagaju said in an interview.
“Suddenly they said I had mishandled the file and I was indefinitely suspended”.
It is reported that Mutakwasuku connived with the Muhanga District Prosecutor, Sylvere Gatambire, to hound Kamagaju out of the job after it was discovered that she had enough evidence to implicate Rutayisire.
However, in an Interview with The New Times, Mutakwasuku denies the allegations.
“I am not involved in that case. We are two different people. He is the one who was in court, not me,” she said.
“If the accident had occurred in my district, the accusations would be founded,” said Mutakwasuku, disregarding the fact that the case was being heard in Muhanga District.
Sources further revealed that the Mayor covered for her husband — who allegedly has a penchant for over-speeding — in previous fatal accidents.
Meanwhile, a cooperative group in Muhanga District is also accusing Mutakwasuku of frustrating its development project.
Briqueterie et Teulerie (BTM) sued the district over 300,000 bricks confiscated from its brick-making project in Shyogwe Sector on the grounds that it lacked clearance from district authorities.
The group later took the case to the court and the district lost after it was proven that the cooperative had proper documents to conduct its business.
According to Onesphore Rugerinyangye, the president of the group, the district has since failed to compensate them despite several court, ministerial and Ombudsman’s orders, and they have now petitioned the President.
“According to the court directives, the district owes us Rwf10.6m, and we owe money to bank, but the Mayor has deliberately refused to authorise payment,” Rugerinyangye told The New Times.
He noted that court ordered the district to return the bricks but they had already been sold.
In a letter dated 19.05.2008, Mutakwasuku wrote to the group requesting them to be patient as the district was waiting for the dry season to lay the 300,000 bricks and return them,but it never happened.
“As we wait for the dry season, I want to inform you that the district will pay the Rwf200,000 which you paid to a lawyer in Court expenses,” Mutakwasuku wrote.
When contacted, the Mayor admitted she is aware of the case but could not comment, referring the reporter to the President’s Office.
“The case is in the President’s Office, perhaps you can call there and ask them,” Mutakwasuku said.