By Patience Kirabo
Seven months since Emmanuel Mageza’s demise in Uganda’s Butabika Hospital following torture in the dungeons of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Uganda has kept mum on the calls by Mageza’s family to have his remains to repatriated for decent burial back home.
Mageza is among the many Rwandan nationals who succumbed to torture injuries inflicted by Uganda’s security agents. Due to yearlong inhumane torture he suffered in CMI dungeons, Mageza was driven over the edge and lost his sanity. He was later dumped at Butabika, Kampala’s mental hospital where he was found dead. His family needs closure, at least through a decent burial.
Francoise Kagoyire and Safari, Mageza’s siblings, continue to grieve their brother, hoping that one day the Uganda government will bring them closure by repatriating their brother’s remains. “We believe that one day we will say our final goodbyes to our brother and our leadership has not ceased to ensure that we get that much-needed closure through her demands to our neighboring country,” says Kagoyire, the deceased’s elder sister.
In a continued effort to normalize relations between the two countries, Rwanda’s fifth demand to Uganda was to repatriate the body of Emmanuel Mageza for a decent burial in Rwanda and to provide explanations about the circumstances surrounding his death. But Uganda has not cooperated on this issue, as Kampala’s decision to ignore this demand shows.
Mageza was singled out and dragged out of a bus in Mbarara by CMI agents in January last year. He was arbitrarily arrested and immediately detained at Makenke Military Barracks in Mbarara without due legal procedure. He was later transferred to Mbuya military Barracks being denied trial before court to defend himself. While at Mbuya he was one of the many Rwandans that CMI operatives tortured. Mageza is reported to have suffered torture including waterboarding, electrocution, severe beating to force him into confessing to “spying on Uganda”. According to former victims of the same torture that were in the same dungeon, Mageza eventually lost his mind.
The victim’s lawyer, Eron Kiiza who represents many victims of Uganda’s illegal detention had for ten months requested an explanation from the military court around the circumstances of his client’s illegal detention given that there were no proper legal charges against him. And on January 31, 2020, a few days shy of Mageza’s death, Eron is said to have petitioned in the Civil Division of High Court in Kampala, demanding that his client be produced in court. However, none of the courts obliged or responded to the lawyer’s pleas.
Mageza was reported dead through Uganda media on February 08, 2020; neither was the government of Rwanda informed, nor was his family.