By Patience Kirabo
A 26-year-old Rwandan national who has been suffering brutal physical mistreatment by elements of Uganda Police, getting shunted from one police station to another, has been dumped at Kagitumba Border Post. Thus Jackson Ndayambaje has suffered an ordeal so many like him have gone through in Uganda.
Ndayambaje who hails from Butaro in Burera District went to Uganda on 23 May 2017 with proper papers: an Immigration entry permit for six months. He was in Uganda on personal business.
On reaching in Nakasongola District however, he was shocked when his Ugandan host kept his travel document and his ID Ndayambaje and refused to return them. It was a confiscation whose reason Ndayambaje did not understand. It was in keeping with a general anti-Rwanda hostile environment that has grown in Uganda, encouraged by the Museveni regime.
Ndayambaje saw that things had become dangerous and decided to find shelter in a nearby church. But while asleep, he says, the police later came around and took him away to the station. They threw him into a cell unceremoniously and with no explanations. In the morning when Ndayambaje attempted to explain what had happened, the police officers could hear none of it.
“They right away accused me of illegal entry into Uganda. However, I told them that I had just arrived a few days ago and my travel documents were still valid, but kept by a family friend who I was initially boarding with,” the distraught Ndayambaje narrates. He adds that he told the police to call the family friend if they wanted to verify.
They seemed only interested in beating him and verbally abusing him.
For no reason, they kept the Rwandan national for ten days at the Nakasongola Police Station while he hoped to be deported back home. “You Munyarwanda, come out” called out a police officer who immediately handcuffed him and mounted him on a police motorbike. They took him to prison, where he was detained for twelve months, eating smelly posho, watery beans and nothing else while digging daily like a slave.
There was no court procedure when they arrested him, and there was no such procedure when they confined him to Nakasongola Prison.
After his one-year hellish stay elapsed, he was taken back to Nakasongola Police Station where he spent three days. They later transferred him to Kireka CMI Police Station in Kampala. “I never understood what crime I had committed to be moved from one jail cell to another; and to mistreat me like that”, Ndayambaje says.
At Kireka they seldom ate. “People only ate when their families or friends visited and brought them food and I had none of those,” he says.
Due to severe hunger, Ndayambaje lost weight and looked wasted.
For the past three years that has been the treatment of Rwandans that Ugandan security agencies, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence at the top of the list, randomly victimize. They keep attempting to recruit them for RNC rebels of Kayumba Nyamwasa. It is part of a recruitment plan that also involves torture – the method being to inflict so much pain on someone that he just accepts to join RNC.
For this, CMI operatives work hand in hand with Kampala-based RNC agents, who also are the main torturers when it comes to innocent Rwandans. Several former victims of torture in CMI dungeons have described how the most dangerous torturers are “the ones that speak fluent Kinyarwanda!” They are Nyamwasa’s people.
Other Rwandans targeted are those that seem to have money. When crooked CMI agents identify one who looks to be a trader, or anyone that seems to have money, they surveil him, right from the bus park. Then pounce on him somewhere, it can be at a bank branch, at a bus park and the like. They then abduct him on the pretext that “he is a Kigali spy”, or “illegal entry”. The charges keep changing. It can be “illegal entry” one day, and “illegal weapons possession” another.
The common factor in all these abuses of the rights of Rwandan nationals is that there never is a court hearing; a proper legal procedure or some law-abiding action.
For Ndayambaje’s part, he was “lucky” that they dumped him after only twelve months of illegal imprisonment. He looked so emaciated, he says, someone decided they better dump him before he died. When they came to take him, he was transferred to another police jail at Jinja road where he endured three more weeks of abuse.
Luckily for Ndayambaje, in those three weeks, Human Rights officers came visiting, asking questions to all detainees. “I mastered the courage and told them about my story,” They listened and took notes, he says.
It was then, after five days, that they drove Ndayambaje to Kagitumba Border and threw him there.
He says there are about 40 Rwandans suffering in Nakasongola Prison.