KATUNA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: The body of Justus Kabagambe a 26-year-old Ugandan who was shot dead in Rwanda has been brought back to Uganda two weeks after his killing.
Kabagambe aka Kadogo, a resident of Rutare village in Rugaga parish, Kabale district was shot dead on August 18 at Kitovu village in the Northern Province in Rwanda, about half a kilometer from the Uganda-Rwanda border.
After the incident, Ugandan authorities were told that Kabagambe was shot dead for smuggling Movit Jelly products into their territory. Since then, relatives have waited for the body in vain. His remains were returned Sunday and handed over to Ugandan authorities at the Katuna border post.
Police spokesperson for Kigezi region, Elly Maate, Muhammad Byansi, the Kabale district police commander, Reuben Mutabazi, the district internal security officer, and Nelson Nshangabasheija, the district chairman jointly received the remains at around 6 pm after more than six hours of waiting at the border.
Rwandan authorities were led by the district police commander for Burera, superintendent of police (SP) Aphrodis Nkundineza and Marie-Chantal Uwanyirigira, the Burera district mayor.
On arrival, the authorities of both countries examined the body of the deceased and confirmed that he was shot in the ribs and the back.
Uwanyirigira explained that Kabagambe was instead shot for smuggling waragi locally known in Kinyarwanda language as kanyanga, and that when he was intercepted, he resisted arrest and fought the security operatives.
Ugandan authorities demanded Uwanyirigira to present an exhibit of the waragi that the deceased was smuggling, but she argued that it was poured down during the scuffle.
“The dead body we bring here of Mr Kabagambe was shot dead when he was smuggling drugs in our country, a drug of kanyanga and as you know, smuggling and dealing with kanyanga in our country is not allowed. So he was arrested by our security officials, he became aggressive towards them and was shot dead…It was in plastics, he fell down the Kanyanga poured,” Uwanyirigira said.
Maate says that the delays in repatriating Kabagembe’s body raises suspicion, adding that suspects need to be arrested and charged instead of being killed. He also cautioned Ugandans against crossed illegally to Rwanda.
“We’re much concerned when we lose our people in that way because, for us, our laws are very clear. When someone is suspected to have committed any offense; whether a citizen or foreigner, we treat them the same. If you must be punished, it must be through the means of the law but our colleagues across, we don’t know how they handle their things. We feel bad when our people are killed from that side.” Maate said.
Nelson Nshangabasheija says that they are tired of receiving dead bodies shot by Rwandan security operatives and asked Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to expedite resolving the Uganda-Rwanda impasse that led to the border closure.
“You know we’re brothers and sisters, we marry from that side, there are people who marry from this side. So when some things like this happen, for us politicians we work together, we work as a team. So I want to ask this side to remain working together to make sure that we handle these small-small issues because you never know this issue of Uganda-Rwanda border closure could end very soon and you know we’re one person…It is not good all the time to come receiving dead bodies.” Nshangabasheija said.
Christopher Beyanga, the deceased’s cousin and Benon Ndimukaaga, the deceased’s son-in-law who is also the Rutare village chairman refuted allegations that the deceased was smuggling waragi but admitted that he was smuggling Movit Jelly products to sell them to his relatives in Rwanda.
They want the Ugandan and Rwandan governments to compensate the family and take care of the widow and the deceased’s two children.
Kabagambe joins a list of both Ugandan and Rwandan nationals to be killed by Rwandan security personnel on accusations of smuggling in Rwanda. Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda on February 27, 2019.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame issued a travel advisory to his nationals against traveling to Uganda, saying their safety is not guaranteed. He accused Ugandan authorities of abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas.
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