At least four heads of KOADU Dukundumurimo, a cooperative that runs abattoirs in Gisenyi town of Rubavu District have been arrested in connection with embezzling over Rwf29 million.
Faustin Mbanjimbere, the cooperative president, and Theophile Ndagijimana, 45, Jean Claude Rwango, 42, and Justin Uwimana Nyagahunde, 37, all members of the internal supervisory committee were taken into custody last Friday.
The arrest is part of the police response and investigations into an audit conducted by Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA), which indicates that over Rwf29 million cooperative funds was unaccounted for, according to Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Theobald Kanamugire, the Police spokesperson for the Western region.
Nyagahunde is suspected to have embezzled over Rwf25 million, alone, according to investigations.
"As soon as we received the copy of the audit from Rwanda Cooperative Agency, we started investigations; preliminary investigations indicate that the quartet has links with the missing money. Some of them actually admitted to the crime," CIP Kanamugire said.
They are currently detained at Gisenyi Police Station pending further investigations, he added.
The quartet is facing charges of embezzlement, mismanagement of the cooperative funds and bad governance, the spokesperson said.
"Cooperatives are one of the government strategies to improve the welfare of the people through concerted efforts and combining their little resources, which in the long run make a direct impact to the country’s economic progress.”
“It is unfortunate that such people who are entrusted to promote the interests of the public are the very ones that are involved in theft,” said CIP Kanamugire.
"The arrest should send a signal to whoever has such thoughts of embezzling and mismanaging public funds that they will face the wrath of the law," the spokesperson warned.
Jean Damascene Hamisi, the Chief Inspector of cooperative in the Western Province, lauded the Police "immediate response to hold responsible all those that had a hand in the misuse and embezzlement of the members' money."
“After realising that the cooperative had so many issues relating to bad governance, mismanagement of resources, which signaled a possible collapse of the cooperative, we intervened and at first, we sensitised the leadership and members of KOADU on the urgent need to settle down all the issues to allow flourishing of the cooperative,” Hamisi said.
"However, problems continued to ensure, including those related to accountability, which prompted us to conduct an audit covering 2015 and 2016. The audit found that a total of Rwf29, 043, 000 was not accounted for, and the four members were in one way or another responsible, but we have no doubt, police investigations will prove that and ensure that the money is recovered through legal processes," Hamisi added.
He echoed the same message on the key role cooperatives play in economic development, warning that anyone, who attempts to misuse public funds will be brought to book.
Hamisi urged members of cooperatives to always report such malpractices to facilitate police investigations and ensure that cooperatives fulfill their purpose for the well being of the members.