NGORORERO-Father Athanase Seromba displayed ill motives in the five months he served as priest at Nyange Catholic Parish, people who witnessed the infamous Nyange massacre say.
They say that during 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the priest who is currently serving a life sentence handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR),exhibited what they termed as a very inhuman and heartless behaviour.
The witnesses, most especially the survivors, maintain that Seromba never had any good intentions towards those who were targeted for slaughter and he issued orders to carry out mass killings.
It is said that Seromba personally invited vulnerable Tutsi targeted for elimination into the safety the church claiming to offer them refuge but instead ordered their massacre on April 16,1994.
According to witnesses, moments before that fateful day, a series of meetings were conducted to prepare the mass execution of Christians who had been lured to seek refuge in the church.
Interahamwe militias reportedly used hand grenades and fire bombs before Seromba came in to ‘finish the job’ by using two tractors to crush down the church to ensure everyone was dead.
Out of the 7161 people who were lured into the church, only six miraculously survived.
52-year old Alloys Rwamasirabo is one of the survivors who lost 9 of his children during the killings. For him, sad memories are still fresh in his mind.
“I had just moved out of the church when it was demolished. Seromba said that the Hutu are many and able to build it again in just one day,” a grief-stricken Rwamasirabo recalls.
Rwamasirabo explained how he hid for 3 months in the bush before Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers came to his rescue.
Epaphrodite Munyentwari, another witness vividly remembers how the events leading to killings unfolded.
“Interahamwe militias often dressed in school uniforms as a tactic to confuse and trap innocent Tutsi into their trap,” Munyentwari said.
He narrated his painful trek from Nyange to Kabgayi in Muhanga District, where he eventually got refuge.