They all say one common thing, “civilians gunmen” picking them up close to midnight, blindfolded and driven off to unknown destinations then forced to confess “things we don’t have a clue about”.
This has become the tale of now six Rwandans--including one Fidele Gatsinzi who arrived in Rwanda last week--who are allegedly kidnapped by unknown gunmen who later drop them at the offices of Uganda’s CMI (Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence) in Mbuya Barracks, located in Kampala.
Jessica Muhongerwa, a young lady in her mid 20s says she was picked from Mbarara town (Western Uganda) about two weeks ago under similar circumstances around 11pm while in her shop.
“I was in my shop and suddenly I saw four men entering and asked to follow them. They had guns and I was immediately bundled and thrown into a waiting car; I was then blindfolded and the car drove off for about 40 minutes and stopped somewhere I didn’t recognize,” Muhongerwa.
Muhongerwa says she spent three days confined in a dark place before they moved her to “another place in Kampala”.
It is only today that I found out that we were locked up in Mbuya Barracks because all the time we were blindfolded and not moving unless during interrogation sessions; that’s when you would be moved from one room to another,” a seemingly tired Muhongerwa said.
Muhongerwa says was beaten, made to sit and spend nights in cold water and urine on the floor in effort to force her confess if she had any ties with any officials in Rwandan government and/or security organs.
“Those soldiers talked to me in Luganda and English while others spoke Lunyankole (a dialect spoken in Western Uganda),” she recalls.
Hubert Mugwaneza’s story has similar finish line.
The proprietor of East African Consult, a Consultancy firm in Kampala was picked up by about eight armed men in civilian clothes in the middle of Kampala city where he had gone to pick a relative after work.
“I had packed by the roadside waiting for my relative to join me in the car and all of sudden I saw a bunch of men, about eight of them surround my car,” Mugwaneza narrates.
“Some opened and pulled me out of my car, I threw my car keys into the group of bystanders such that they help me but I guess they feared guns. I was thrown into a waiting van and driven off to Mbuya Barracks where I endured endless torture until the day I left,” he says.
Mugwaneza says that his interrogators also asked him of his ties with some Rwandan government officials and security officers.
“They tell you one thing, ‘you are involved’ and you just can't tell when that means,” he says, before adding, “they mentioned names I have never heard about. And told me that I was responsible for the repatriation of Joel Mutabazi from Uganda and killing of some other person I did not know about.”
Mugwaneza says has lived in Uganda since 2011; has property, business and family in that country and calls for diplomatic intervention such that he can get back his possessions in Uganda.
Dinah Kamikazi, the proprietor of a bar and beauty salon in Mbarara town was picked up by unknown gunmen on December 16 together with her niece Vanessa Agasaro, blindfolded and thrown into the waiting van to an unknown destination--where they also spent three days before being taken to Mbuya barracks in Kampala.
“They alleged that I was either a police officer or a soldier from Rwanda yet I have been in Mbarara for years.”
“I pleaded with them that I first close my businesses before they could take me but they refused. Now they have deported us; we have lost everything, we don't have anything to start with. Hopefully our government will intervene and help us regain our assets,” Kamikazi said.
Fred Turatsinze, a native of Gatsibo district (Easter Province) working and residing in Mbarara town was also picked up from his home under similar circumstances and taken to a torture chamber in Mbuya barracks where he found another “ relatively elderly man in his 50s who speaks Kinywarwanda and Lunyankole and identified himself as Nuunu.
“That is the only person I managed to see for all the days I was there until the time they released us from that big house from where we were locked and moved to Kireka Police station,” he said.
From Kireka to Gatuna border, the five individuals were transported by Ugandan Police officers and CMI agents and handed over to Rwandan Migration.
A legal expert who spoke to The New Times preferring anonymity labeled the incident as an abuse of human rights because no case files were opened against the individuals and the fact that they were tortured.
“Being a foreigner doesn't make you a criminal in any country regardless prevailing relations. It is unfortunate that such unnecessary violation of human rights are happening to nationals of a country that respects rights of foreigners including Ugandans,” the expert said.
Some Ugandans who work and live in Rwanda who spoke to this reporter still on preference of anonymity affirm that they are “ so far still safe” in Rwanda but are “concerned” by the continued reports of Rwandans who are being kidnapped and tortured back in their home country.
Meanwhile Gatsinzi told The New Times that the security agents who pick up Rwandans in Uganda are working alongside dissidents working with RNC including a certain Rugema Kayumba and a one Mukombozi.
RNC (Rwanda National Congress) is a terrorist outfit led by convicted fugitive Kayumba Nyamwasa.
The same outfit is responsible for a series of grenade attacks that rocked Kigali and other parts of Rwanda between 2012 and 2014.