Jean Baptiste Rukemampunzi, the former Executive Secretary of Gacurabwenge Sector in Kamonyi district, walked out of Gitarama Prison walls a free man after being paroled.
He had been sentenced to four years for embezzlement of government funds and had already served two years and nine months by the time of release.
Rukemampunzi was part of the 171 inmates who were granted parole in December under ministerial order 160/08.11 of 23/11/2011.
A total of 162 were released in Gitarama prisons in Muhanga district, while 9 were also paroled in Mpanga prison in Nyanza district, after meeting the minimum parole requirements.
The release was implemented after the Cabinet announced the provisional release of 1667 inmates.
Rukemampunzi pleaded guilty to the charges and asserts that there was no reason for denying the offense- which did not only bring shame to him, but caused a loss to the community.
He said the first days in prison were not easy, especially as a former leader in a respected post, but with time, he started to learn to live like any other inmate.
“It’s not easy and almost one has to live a day at a time and completely come to terms with his past mistakes,” he says.
Another paroled inmate, Berancilla Mukakabera, - gave birth to a daughter (Clemance Imanishimwe, 3yrs) while serving a five year sentence for genocide denial. She had served four years of her jail term.
This offense separated her from her five other children- who were literally left to the mercy of the community.
She says that the release was a time to meet her other children, reflect on her future life and be a responsible mother.
“This is an opportunity to take care of my six children, and be a responsible mother and will use the chance to promote unity and reconciliation, and desist from the Genocide ideology,” she told The New Times.
Mukakabera managed to survive in prison with the help and support of other female inmates.
“Women are very supportive and good at counseling and comforting, and this makes life move on day-by-day,” she recalled.
The Director of Gitarama prison, Gerard Ntarugera- attributed the early releases to the high level of discipline and transformation of the inmates.
With help of anti-crime clubs set up in the prison, (made up of inmates and area residents) they meet and discuss ways in which to curb crime. Most of the educational factors are displayed in role plays (dramas) in the prison.
“With these educative programs, most of the inmates were able to change and learn from their past mistakes. These clubs contribute to the growing discipline among inmates,” Ntarugera says.
The anti –crime clubs have only been established in Gitarama prison and if extended to other prisons and communities, it would impact on the awareness and prevention of crimes.
For the freed prisoners, it was a long awaited day to be free and able to breathe fresh air without worrying of the prison warder watching over them behind the walls.
They hailed the government, through the Ministry of Justice for considering their request for parole.