By Patience Kirabo
The lawyers of two Rwandan nationals that fell victim to the harassment,illegal imprisonment, and torture at the hands of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) who then disappeared in 2019 are demanding that the Ugandan state produce them. The two, Theogene Sendegeya and Rwembo Mucyo, went missing following their reported transfer to Butabika Hospital from CMI’s torture dungeons. Up to date they still nowhere to be seen.
Sendegeya was arbitrarily arrested early in 2019, following abduction by CMI in conjunction with operatives of UPDF Second Division, headed by Maj. Fred Mushambo the head of counterintelligence based in Mbarara. He was dragged to Makenke Military Barracks in Mbarara, but was later transferred to CMI headquarters Mbuya Barracks where torture is rampant, reported to be a favorite method of Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho head of CMI.
While at Mbuya, Sendegeya suffered torture alongside several other Rwandans, two of them Rwembo Mucyo and Emmanuel Mageza. Mageza suffered mental breakdown as a result of the torture at the hands of Kandiho’s men, and subsequently died at Butabika hospital where he had been transferred along with Mucyo and Sendegeya.They, like every Rwandan national arbitrarily arrested in Uganda, were held incommunicado for months without family, or the Rwanda High Commission in Kampala’s knowledge.
They were denied access to lawyers and a chance for a trial in court to defend themselves.
The victims suffered extreme inhumane torture and abuse, including waterboarding, electrocution, severe beating, hanging, drowning, and pressure points for months to no end. As a result, the physical and psychological trauma of the ongoing pain drove them to the edge, hence losing their mind.
The lawyers, Kiiza and Associates of Kampala that have been representing hundreds of innocent Rwandans illegally detained in Uganda filed a complaint in court inquiring about the illegal detention of their clients.
However, it was only during a court appearance that Brian Musota, the state attorney indicated that Sendegeya was no longer in CMI’s custody but rather in Butabika Hospital. On further probing, the Joint Chief of Staff of the UPDF Lt. General Joseph Musanyufu said“Sendegeya was forwarded to Butabika Hospital on August 23rd, 2019 for treatment.”
Musanyufu then claimed that “Sendegeya escaped from Butabika and his whereabouts are unknown.”
It is known that among CMI’s ways of doing things, when a Rwandan succumbs to their torture they just dump the body somewhere and should there happen to be an inquiry they deny knowledge of that deceased.
For Mageza, his story only became known after some Ugandan media reported on it. His life ended on January 21, 2020, in Butabika hospital, and his family and the government of Rwanda learned it from an article in The Daily Monitor. Now the families of Sendegeya and Mucyo fear the worst. Despite the government of Rwanda’s request to Uganda to clarify the circumstances of the mysterious disappearance of its two citizens as part of seven demands for the restoration of the two countries’ relations,
Uganda has not said a word despite its obligations to fulfill the terms of the agreement of the Luanda MoU, one of them being the immediate release of Rwandans languishing in illegal custody. “In this case Uganda would also be obliged to produce, and repatriate any bodies of Rwandans that their security operatives killed, for decent burial,” said a Kigali official that requested anonymity. In fact, Mucyo and Sendegeya’s family now demand to see them, dead or alive.