Arrested Intwarane group faces incitement charges

The Police have proferred multiple charges against 11 members claiming ties with the Catholic Church who were arrested over holding illegal assembly in the City of Kigali.
Archbishop Ntihinyurwa warned the sect members. The New Times/ File.
Archbishop Ntihinyurwa warned the sect members. The New Times/ File.

The Police have proferred multiple charges against 11 members claiming ties with the Catholic Church who were arrested over holding illegal assembly in the City of Kigali.

The group, including 10 women, under Intwarane za Yezu na Mariya, will be charged with illegal demonstration and public gathering, inciting insurrection and trouble among the population, according to Police.

Theos Badege, the Police spokesperson, on Friday said Police have handed over the file to prosecution.

Members of the group, who claim to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, were arrested while drumming and sounding other instruments in Kiyovu, allegedly, en route to the State House. 

They are being held separately at Nyamirambo, Muhima and Kicukiro Police stations.

The group are said to have started by interrupting a mass at St Michel Cathedral. The priest complained and sought the intervention of local defence personnel.

Police said the group then headed to Gakinjiro, shouting “You should repent otherwise more blood will be shed than what was shed during the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994.”

Overwhelmed local defence personnel were forced to call in Police.

This paper could not ascertain the group’s target audience or their motive, but Badege said the chants was probably meant for the public.
 
Legal procedures

According to Article 685, any person who holds a public meeting or demonstration on public ways without notifying the competent authority shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of eight days but less than six months and a fine of Rwf100,000 to Rwf1 million.

“They have to answer to these charges because prior to making any demonstration, the organisers ask permission from local authorities and Police are notified, so that we can help them reach their objectives without any hindrances,” Badege said.

However, depending on how the prosecution could interpret the charges against the sect, Article 463 of the Penal Code might also be preferred.

The article says knowingly spreading rumours or exciting the population with intention to cause trouble, is an offence that can attract 15 years in jail.

Archbishop of Kigali comments 

Commenting on the behaviour of Intwarane group, the Archbishop of Kigali Thadée Ntihinyurwa, said he had previously warned the group about their behaviour.

Ntihinyurwa, however, expressed surprise at the number of the sect that he said he had estimated to be a handful of about 20 people. The group is said to have about 1,000 members, according to some media reports.

The group is said to have had a ritual in Muhima Cell, Nyarugenge District, where they practice “healing services” in a residential house. They allegedly have two priests and a nun.

“I warned them that they should leave this behaviour, but they won’t listen to me. I am thinking of the way forward,” Ntihinyurwa said.

“Some parishes report that they have individuals belonging to the group; they criticise their way of worship - while the others make a Sign of the Cross, for them they shake vigourously.”

Smaragde Mbonyintege, the bishop of Kabgayi and head of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Council in Rwanda, said: “I lead decent people, not indecent people; those don’t belong to us.”

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