By Patience Kirabo
The family of the late Emmanuel Mageza, the Rwandan national that lost his mind following a year of torture in the dungeons of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI is asking Uganda of only one thing: repatriate his remains for a decent burial. They also want reparations for his brutal killing, but first and foremost they want to bury their family member.
Kagoyire Francoise, Mageza’s oldest sibling who now is the head of the family grieves for her brother, like the others, but they haven’t lost hope that one day they will get to bury him home. What gives them such re-assurance is that the Government of Rwanda among other things has made the subject of the repatriation of Mageza a condition for restoration of good relations with Uganda.
“I don’t know just how much to thank our government,” says Francoise, a teacher at Kigali Parents School. “The government has been there for everyone that has suffered injustice in Uganda, and we believe one day we will get our brother’s body back.” She likens the government to “a strong shoulder that has been there for us to cry on.”
Rwanda has demanded that Uganda not only repatriate the body of the late Mageza so that it can be given to his family, but has also demanded an explanation about the circumstances surrounding his death. That was among Kigali’s seven demands in the February Quadripartite Summit of the Luanda MoU that took place at Katuna/Gatuna earlier this year.
Uganda, however, is yet to provide any explanations.
The most painful thing to Mageza’s family is how he died. They learnt that he died following months of torture at the hands of Ugandan security operatives.
A chronology of the events leading to Mageza’s death indicates that his fate was sealed when agents of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) in Mbarara pulled him off his Kampala-bound bus in January 2019. It was an arbitrary arrest, the kind of illegal arrest with which CMI agents have taken so many Rwandans, illegally detained them, followed by torture. And contrary to international conventions, they never notified the Rwandan High Commission in Kampala of the arrest of its citizen.
“That is the hallmark of CMI behavior; everything they do is just criminal and lawless,” said one analyst.
When they abducted Mageza they took him first to Makenke Military Barracks, then transferred him to the notorious Mbuya Barracks, headquarters of the dreaded CMI.
That was the last time the Rwandan national would see the outside world.
They never gave him the chance to defend himself on any charges. They never in fact read him any charges, except accusations that “he was a spy”.
Lawyers representing Rwandan victims of such arbitrary arrests have time and again challenged CMI, Internal Security Organization (ISO) and others to desist from “locking people up on concocted charges, then proceeding to hold them for long periods of time, “with no legal procedure,” as Eron Kiiza, one of the attorneys has said many times.
Lucky survivors of the torture dungeons of Mbuya – among them the nine Rwandans that Uganda handed over at the beginning of this year – have described the terrible ordeals they suffered, and all remembered Mageza as suffering particularly badly. “After months of beatings, electrocution, or waterboarding Mageza finally lost his mind,” recalled Munyangabe, one of the nine repatriated men.
When the CMI men realized Mageza was mentally unwell they just took him and dumped him in Butabika Mental Hospital. While there, he passed away.