MUHANGA — Four children were on Thursday charged with obtaining money by false pretence at Nyamabuye Lower Court.
The children, all of teenage age, Jacques Semayange, Assuman Manzi, Céléstine Ibamabasi, and Innocent Nzabandora, all genocide orphans of Kagitarama village allegedly obtained Frw2.5 million last year from the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC).
They have been in prison since January after being sued by leaders of an Association of Orphan Headed Families (AOCM) in Muhanga district.
Another child, Francoise Murekatete missed court. Court almost adjourned the trial after prosecution had failed to indicate the whereabouts of the latter, said to be the head of the association.
Prosecution alleges that the children formed a duplicate association of orphans called Dukunde-Umurimo-AOCM-Muhanga and received funds from NURC, in the pretext that they were working for AOCM.
According to prosecution, the orphans used the said money for their personal interests instead of committing it to the maize project meant to assist 20 orphans.
The AOCM president (Musabyimana) was not in court reportedly being held at Nyamabuye police station on separate charges.
However, in their defence, the children argued that they authentically asked for the funds, as an association. They said NURC visited their project prior to releasing the funds.
They argued that their association leaders Claver Kubwimana, Vénuste Nduwayezu and Théoneste Musabyimana, lodged the complaint because they were left out in the use of the money.
“There was no problem with the project because it was authentic, not until the AOCM leadership contested the deal referring to it as unlawful. AOCM is our address and the money was specifically for the named beneficiaries,” said Jacque Semayange.
Another child, Assuman Manzi added, “We accept receiving the money but the whole scenario became an issue because we refused to share the money with the leaders. Groups of families in AOCM-Muhanga have made similar projects and such a case has never arisen until the leaders get interested in the money.”
Their lawyer told court that there was no breach of contract between the association of survivors and NURC as the funds were obtained through proper channels and benefited the intended beneficiaries. The lawyer asked court to release the orphans.
The accused argued that matters arising on the funds should be raised between them and NURC after December, this year after association Dukunde-umurimo makes its financial report. The hearing continues in July.