Rwandan man 'badly beaten by police' dies

Samba Cyuzuzo

BBC News, Great Lakes

Flavien Ngaboyamahina
Flavien Ngaboyamahina was buried last week

A Rwandan man died in hospital after being badly assaulted by a police officer who was enforcing a night-time curfew on the outskirts of the capital, Kigali, a member of his family has told the BBC.

Flavien Ngaboyamahina, who would have turned 30 on Wednesday, had visited a friend in Karenge, east of Kigali.

They were both arrested on 1 August for being outdoors after 21:00 local time, when the curfew starts, the family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

"They were on the road near his friend's home... Suddenly he [the friend] heard Flavien groaning that he’s been badly hit in the belly. It was a policeman, who then arrested them both," the family member said.

Mr Ngaboyamahina died in hospital three days later, the family member added.

Flavien Ngaboyamahina
Flavien Ngaboyamahina / Facebook
Flavien Ngaboyamahina would have celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday

On Monday, Rwandan police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera told the BBC he would comment later.

The police sent a representative to Mr Ngaboyamahina's burial last Thursday, according to the family member.

Rwanda was recently praised by World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus as among countries that "are doing well in managing the coronavirus pandemic".

It is one of three African countries whose citizens are currently allowed to travel to Europe's Schengen area.

Opposition groups in Rwanda have condemned what they say is the violation of human rights and the use of excessive force by security officers while enforcing Covid-19 restrictions.

In the last two weeks of July, nearly 60,000 people were punished for either not wearing face masks, breaching the curfew or not observing social distancing, the interior ministry said.

Most of the offenders were arrested and taken to stadiums or school buildings where they were forced to sit all night or day.

Offenders at Huye stadium
Violators of Covid-19 measures held at Huye stadium in southern Rwanda

Burundi refugees call for deal to allow them home

Samba Cyuzuzo

BBC Great Lakes

Refugees holding their hands up
Getty Images
Thousands fled to Rwanda in 2015 after tensions rose over President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in office

A letter written by a group of Burundian refugees living in a camp in Rwanda asks their president to cooperate with Rwanda and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, to repatriate them. However, there is not yet an agreement between the two countries and the UNHCR on how to carry it out.

More than 60,000 Burundian refugees have been living in Mahama camp, in eastern Rwanda, since the 2015 political crisis over the late former President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term.

More than 300 Mahama residents signed the letter to their president accusing some exiled Burundian politicians of "wanting them to stay in the camp for their own interests".

Emmanuel Bizimana, one of the signatories told the BBC that "now it is time now to return home", adding:

We know our country is safe now, that's why we wrote to our president."

In his inaugural speech in June, President Evariste Ndayishimiye pleaded for refugees to return and since then nearly 2,000 have come back from Tanzania, UN figures show.

But there is not yet an agreement between Rwanda, Burundi and the UNHCR to allow the refugees in Rwanda to come back.

Rwandan agency denies torturing suspects

Samba Cyuzuzo

BBC Great Lakes

Col Jeannot Ruhunga
Rwanda Investigation Bureau

The head of the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has denied accusations that the agency uses torture to make suspects plead guilty to crimes.

Some 13 suspects facing terror charges, including freelancer journalist Phocas Ndayizera, told a court that they were tortured by officers from the agency who wanted them to plead guilty.

But RIB chief Col Jeannot Ruhunga told journalists on Tuesday in the capital, Kigali, that the claims of torture were a "way of denying charges by suspects".

“Torture is not something we use today to get information or accuse someone of charges,” Col Ruhunga said.

Some members of the opposition party FDU-Inkingi recently claimed to have been tortured after being arrested by officers from the agency.

A recently published posthumous book by popular singer Kizito Mihigo speaks of his alleged torture in order to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy against the government.

Mr Kizito died in February while in police custody in Kigali. Police said he took his own life.

Rwandan volunteer re-arrested over cathedral fire

A Rwandan national has been re-arrested in the French city of Nantes and charged with arson, following a fire that damaged the city's 15th Century Gothic cathedral a week ago.

The 39-year-old man, who worked as a volunteer warden at the cathedral, was detained but released last week.

French newspaper Le Monde quotes a prosecutor as saying the suspect has "admitted" to being responsible for the fire that broke out in three different places.

His lawyer is quoted as saying the man "bitterly regrets" his actions.

The fire destroyed the cathedral's 17th Century organ, as well as historic stained glass windows.

The fire at the Cathedral of Saint Pierre and Saint Paul in Nantes on 18 February
The 39-year-old has been charged with arson

Ex-Rwanda PM in court for writing invalid cheques

Samba Cyuzuzo

BBC Great Lakes

Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi in court
Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi applied for bail

Former Rwanda Prime Minister Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi has appeared in court in the capital, Kigali, on charges of issuing cheques that were not backed by funds in the bank.

Mr Habumuremyi, in office between 2011 and 2014, was arrested a few weeks ago. In court, he denied the charges and applied for bail.

The former prime minister, who also served as education minister, owns a private university. He is accused of failing to pay suppliers and writing cheques that could not be cashed.

The former prime minister told the court he was in the process of paying his accusers, and asked to be released to be able to carry on.

The court will decide on his bail application next week.

Weather experts warn of strong winds in East Africa

BBC Monitoring

The world through its media

The authorities have warned of strong winds and massive sea waves hitting East Africa from Thursday.

In Kenya, the meteorological department has said that the strong winds "could blow off roofs and cause structural damage".

Tanzania has also warned of five days of severe weather, including gales, along its entire coastline and elsewhere in the west and northern parts of the country.

The Rwanda Meteorology Agency said many parts of the eastern and southern provinces are likely to experience strong winds.

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Rwanda reopens churches after four months

Samba Cyuzuzo

BBC Great Lakes

St Charles Lwanga a catholic church in Kigali
BBC Great Lakes
Churches have been shut for four months

Rwanda has allowed churches to reopen but with strict conditions meant to limit the spread of coronavirus, according to a statement by the prime minister's office.

Churches and schools were ordered shut across the country on 14 March, hours after the first case of Covid-19 was reported.

  • Churchgoers will now have to be registered at the entrance, maintain 1.5m (4.9ft) distance and must wear masks
  • Congregants must not give offerings in cash
  • Children under the age of 12 will not be allowed in.

Bishop Philippe Rukamba of the Council of Catholic Bishops in Rwanda recently told the BBC that when they were allowed to reopen “Catholic tradition order of Mass would remain the same, but the how would change”.

Rwandans online have praised the decision while others have complained that bars - which remain closed - should also be allowed to open.

Schools will remain closed until September.

Rwanda has recorded 1,435 cases of Covid-19 and four deaths.