By Patience Kirabo
From the darkness of Luzira Prison in Uganda where he was made to eat food laced with particles of broken glass, Augustin Rutayisire’s days back home in Rwanda are brighter today than never before. The businessman whose life clearly is on the mend as he enjoys quality time with his family, he is just so happy for the way the Government of Rwanda fought for his rights and those of fellow Rwandan prisoners in Uganda.
According to Rutayisire, whose life was badly disrupted by an arrest in Uganda on accusations for which he was never taken to court, he can only thank the Government of Rwanda for his new lease of life.
When he and nine others were repatriated to Rwanda in January this year his health needed immediate attention – just like all the others including some that could barely walk. They were quickly taken to Kanombe Hospital where they got what he only describes as “the highest quality health care”, moreover for free! Even ministers were visiting them on their bedside, “such is the care that Rwanda shows for its people.”
Rutayisire was in a tricky situation, however, as his finances were in disarray, having lost everything he had worked for to Ugandan security operatives.
As a result, the government of Rwanda stepped in, took care of his medical needs, and gave Rutayisire capital to start a new life and fend for himself and his family. “For someone who thought that my life would end in Uganda, it is more of a rebirth because in a few months I was able to start up a business and begin afresh,” said the father of three. “It is indeed true, we are children of our nation, because only a parent would understand the needs or suffering of his or her children. Rwanda has been that and more to us,” said Rutayisire in a shaky voice, overcome by emotions.
He is currently running a business in Kigali where he sells electronic appliances.
Rutayisire was abducted on May 25, 2018, with his business partner and friend Emmanuel Rwamucyo in Mbarara town by a one Mukama Moses Kandiho, a Government Internal Security Officer (GISO) in Mbarara. This man also happens to be the young brother of Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho – the head of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) which has been cited several times as being at the centre of abductions and torture of Rwandan nationals in Uganda.
Rutayisire and his colleague were accused of being “involved in a robbery plot” and their torture began from Makenke Barracks in Mbarara District where they were particularly brutalized by officers led by one Maj. Fred Mushambo the counterintelligence officer, UPDF Second Division. “We were accused of being Rwandan military operatives!” Rutayisire said. “We told them that we are businessmen trying to earn a living and not military people, but they only intensified the torture.”
The victims – Rutayisire and his friend Rwamucyo – were later transferred to Mbuya Military Barracks where they spent three weeks, “suffering severe torture.” They were then taken to Makindye Military Barracks then later to Luzira Prison. It is in Luzira that Rutayisire was fed with food that contained glass fragments, which almost killed him.
This badly affected Rutayisire’s digestive system and intestines but thanks to constant monitoring by health experts, he sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“The government has done more than enough for me, and at this moment I believe I can stand on my own,” said the grateful man.