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Burundi refugee lives in fear after her children go missing

By Chris Kiwawulo

Added 26th March 2018 04:48 PM

First it was her 5-year-old son, Obama Ishimwe, to disappear, then her 16-year-old daughter, Joseline Nyiranuri, also followed suit. These disappearances have left Uwimana distraught.

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First it was her 5-year-old son, Obama Ishimwe, to disappear, then her 16-year-old daughter, Joseline Nyiranuri, also followed suit. These disappearances have left Uwimana distraught.

PIC: Jacqueline Uwimana. Photo by Ramadhan Abbey

As cases of kidnap and murders increase in the country, several people especially those whose family members have disappeared, are living in fear.

This is the case of Jacqueline Uwimana, a Burundian refugee, whose two children have disappeared. First it was her 5-year-old son, Obama Ishimwe, to disappear, then her 16-year-old daughter, Joseline Nyiranuri, also followed suit. These disappearances have left Uwimana distraught and searching for answers.

Police is now investigating circumstances under which the two refugee children disappeared. The commandant of the Police Flying Squad Unit, Herbert Muhangi, said he had set up a team to investigate the matter and search for Uwimana’s children.

Uwimana said she came to Uganda over five years ago after she became a target of politicians in Burundi, including ministers who wanted to take her home in Bujumbura.

“I fought off these ministers and I won them in courts of law. But after I won the case, my family became a target. My husband had been killed before. So, I decided to run to Uganda,” explained Uwimana, who is currently under refugee protection at Nakivale refugee settlement camp in Isingiro district, Southwestern Uganda.

Umimana’s child (Ishimwe), then five years, disappeared in December 2014. Ishimwe was reportedly kidnapped as he was returning home from school. The family was then living in Nsambya, and Ishimwe was studying at Pan African Development Advocacy in Nsambya.

“People who were in a car kidnapped my son. His colleagues saw the men push him into a car and driving away. I reported a case in Nsambya referenced as SD/68/13/12/2014

Frightened, Uwimana sought protection from government and she and her family were given a protection house at Nakivale camp. However, Uwimana’s daughter (Nyiranuri) also disappeared mysteriously in November last year.

She reported a case at Kashojwa police post referenced as 08/09/11/2017. To date, police are still searching for Uwimana’s missing children.

Uwimana, who is now left with four children, said she ran to Police after she was threatened too. However, for her case, she is suspecting that some police officers, who wanted to throw her out of the protection house in Nakivale, were behind the threats.

Uwimana believes the police officers who wanted her out are doing it in revenge after she reported them for stealing her $50,000 (sh182m) that she said belonged to her brother, a gold dealer based in DR Congo.

“A few years back, I reported the policemen and they were arrested and forced to refund the money, although they only gave me back $10,000 (sh36m). But they have been issuing me with threats ever since,” Uwimana revealed.

It is the threat of throwing her out of the protection house that forced Uwimana to go back to Muhangi, saying her life was in danger as the police officers she reported could harm her. She also fears that the unknown people who kidnapped her children could as well harm her.

Muhangi has since intervened and stopped any attempts to throw Uwimana and her children out of the protection house. “Nobody will throw her out of that house,” he stressed.

Monica Mugisha, an OPM officer at Nakivale, said nobody should chase Uwimana from the protection house, as this could expose her.       

Other cases

The kidnap of Uwimana’s children comes at a time of an increase in the spate of kidnaps in the country, some of which have ended up into the murder of the victims. One such case involves Susan Magara, the daughter of businessman John Fitzgerald Magara.

Susan, 28, was kidnapped on February 7, but her body was discovered in Kitiko village along the Entebbe expressway on February 27, this year. She was the cashier at the Hoima-based Bwendero Dairy Farm. Susan was buried at her ancestral home in Hoima.

The latest kidnap case involved a lady, Charity Kyohairwe, 33. She was kidnapped as she left her home in Rubaga to go for prayers at Pastor Samuel Kakande’s church in Mulago on Sunday. The kidnappers asked for a sh5m ransom, but killed her after the family had sent sh2.5m.

A former Public Service Ministry information scientist, Samuel Mubiru, has also since gone missing after he reportedly received phone calls threatening his life. Mubiru is believed to have volunteered information to Police regarding the theft of billions of shillings belonging to pensioners.

Mubiru’s family members are worried about his whereabouts, saying he stopped working in August last year over threats, and he has never returned to his rented house in Kira, Wakiso district.

In 2016, Deniel Weldo, an Eritrean businessman, was kidnapped and killed before his bank account was swept clean of sh7b. In 2013, an Ethiopian, Michael Gebremariam Teklegzi, was murdered before his bank account that had sh3.5b, was swept clean.

The rising trend of kidnap cases has left police and other security agencies with a huge task of breaking this seemingly rising trend.  

 

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