The body of a Ugandan national, Teojen Ndagijimana recently shot dead last week by Rwandan security operatives has been brought back into the country.
Ndagijimana, 25, a resident of Kabingo village, Murora sub-county in Kisoro district was shot dead on Saturday at Kumugu trading centre Musanze district in Rwanda, about three kilometres away from the Ugandan border.
Ndagijmana was shot together with two Rwandans, Erike Biizimana and Emmanuel Mbabazi – all residents of Burera in Rwanda. According to residents, Ndagijimana and his brother identified as Augustine Gatsiri had crossed to Rwanda through the porous border to smuggle into Rwanda tea bags.
Each of them was carrying a sack containing teabags worth 35 kilograms. Ndagijmana’s body was handed over today Wednesday to Ugandan authorities at Chanika border at around 12:30 pm amidst tight security from both countries. The body was taken to Chahafi health centre IV for post-mortem.
Burera district mayor, Marie Chantal Uwanyirigira and senior superintendent of police, Jean Bosco Rudasingwa led the Rwandan delegation while Uganda’s delegation was led by Captain Peter Mugisha, Kisoro resident district commissioner, Ruhunde Christopher and James Nsaba Buturo the MP for Bujumbura County East.
Rwandan security operatives had reportedly planned to hand over the body yesterday Tuesday night at around 10:00 pm, but Ugandan authorities rejected the move, questioning the motive of handing over the body in darkness.
While handing over the body, Uwanyirigira said that although the shooting incident is unfortunate, Ugandans must desist from crossing to Rwanda through porous borders because Rwandan security have orders that they will follow to the latter. She said that Rwandan laws strongly prohibit smuggling and drug trafficking.
“We’re sorry as Rwandans, it was not a planned action because we’re friends and the only message I can tell all Rwandans and Ugandans is to respect the order from Rwanda and all countries. In Rwanda, it is not allowed to use drugs and transport drugs. It is not allowed. Also, smuggling is not good and the only reason [they were shot]is because when they have been arrested by our security officials, they tried to be aggressive towards our security organs. It was a way of handling the case because they wanted to kill our security organs. The incident took place when he was with two people from Rwanda and the Rwandans are also dead. But next time it is good to respect the order we have.” said Uwanyirigira.
Captain Mugisha urged Ugandans to remain calm and not retaliate in any form despite being annoyed at the shootings since Rwanda closed its border to Uganda in February 2019. In November last year, Rwandan security officials also shot and killed two Ugandans John Bosco Tuhirirwe, 30, a resident of Nyakabungo village in Kyabihangwa parish and Job Byarushaga, 37 for illegally crossing into Rwanda.
Earlier in May 2019, John Batista Ncherengye, a Rwandan national and Alex Nyesiga Atuheire, a Ugandan national and resident of Nyakabungo village in Rukiga district in western Uganda were shot dead admittedly by Rwandan security officers from inside Ugandan territory.
“People are not happy and will not be happy. You cannot lose your beloved one and become happy. Let us first burry then we shall come back to sit with the LCs in meetings to see how best we can handle the situation since the government is handling the situation government to government. For us, we’re going to handle the situation as locals. But I tell them not to be so annoyed to the level of fighting.” said Mugisha.
Ever since Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs at Gatuna border tensions between the two countries have hit pitch high. Several delegations and meetings set out by either country have failed to resolve the outstanding issues and the mantle has now been passed unto Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame.
The presidents, it had been reported were set to hold talks in London, during the UK-Africa Investment Summit this week but no further communication has since come out of both camps to suggest that the meeting indeed took place. Kagame accuses Ugandan authorities of abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in ungazetted areas.
He also accuses Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, who have declared war on the Kigali government.
Rwanda advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda, saying it can’t guarantee their safety and even those seeking education, food and health services have been blocked. Uganda, on the other hand, accuses Rwanda of infiltrating its security agencies including the army, police and intelligence organs to carry out espionage activities. Earlier this month, Uganda withdrew charges of illegal possession of firearms from nine Rwandans and freed them back to Rwanda as ‘gesture of goodwill’ aimed at cooling the tensions.