Police have launched a massive man-hunt for a pastor who allegedly created a ghost charity organisation and defrauded over 290 students.
Pastor Ezekiel Niyoniringiye of Kacyiru Methodist Church and one Jean Claude Nsengimana, who is also on the run, are said to have formed a ghost charity firm, ‘Rwanda Youth at Work Cooperation,’ to cater for all education expenses of vulnerable students.
The duo opened an office in Karambo, Gatenga Sector in Kicukiro District and each student was required to pay Rwf 5,000 as registration fees.
An accountant of the ghost charity group, Regina Muragijimana, 28, however was arrested and is currently held at Kicukiro Police Station.
Muragijimana who has been employed at the organisation since December last year, however, denied either knowing that the organisation was bogus or being a fraudster herself.
“I heard an announcement in my church [ADPR Murindi] for a job in this organisation. I applied and I was shortlisted for an interview, which I did under the supervision of Nsengimana, who later told me that I was the lucky one for the job,” Muragijimana told journalists.
She said that she never met the Pastor since she was given the job early December, last year.
“I was told by Nsengimana that we were working for Pastor Niyoniringiye, who I never saw for the entire period I worked there,” she explained.
The students, at the beginning of this academic year, wentto the pastor’s office where they were furnished with letters to supposedly send to the heads of their respective schools.
Upon opening the envelopes, signed by the said Pastor, which stressed that his organisation would pay the tuition in June, the students realised they had been conned and immediately reported the matter to the police.
“Previously, we had been told that we will come and collect tuition money. But when we came, they gave us envelopes containing letters to take to school. We were instructed not to open them which made us suspicious and reported the matter to police,” one student (names withheld), who was supposed to report to King David Academy, said.
“We heard announcements in the church about this organisation and we came to see if it can support us because my parents are poor and cannot fully support my education. We didn’t know that they were cheating us,” another student explained.
Police Spokesperson, Supt Theos Badege, however, noted that economic and property crimes have ‘decreased tremendously,’ due to public awareness campaigns initiated by the police and tracking down of culprits.
“We acknowledged the partnership with the public, which has seen many people dealing in such criminal acts arrested,” he said.
He, however, urged them to be responsible and beware of such acts and report suspicious dealers, adding that “it is a matter of time before the pastor is arrested, like many others who deal in such criminal acts.”