Government Agencies Relocate and Then Abandon Abuse Victim, whose Ears Were Cut Off
A woman, whose abuse case gripped the nation in July, is living through more misery despite several government agencies claiming to have helped her to safety.
RIB handed the victim Irene Uwimbabazi on this past Sunday to Ruhango district to be supported to recover from her horrific ordeal. The victim, together with her children have instead gone back to live in same area where Uwimbabazi was nearly killed.
First, Irene Uwimbabazi’s husband was tortured in February by local businessman and died a month later from the injuries.
Investigation HUGUKA Radio published in July, led to arrest and later release of the suspect. A RIB crime investigator was also recalled back to headquarters for bungling the case.
However, our stories also provoked a series of attacks on Uwimbabazi, including an incident in which the attackers cut off parts of her ears. In another incident, the attackers tried to drown her in the local river.
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Amid public outcry, on August 7, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) moved Uwimbabazi to the Police’s Isange One Stop Center here in Kigali where abuse victims are rehabilitated. At the time, RIB also disputed Uwimbabazi’s narration that she had been gang raped
More than three months later, Uwimbabazi, a mother of four, was let to go back home. However, Ruhango district decided to relocate the family to another area, about 6km away from the original home. The district says the new location is safe, away from her tormentors.
Our team visited Uwimbabazi this Wednesday. The village head gave her food on Sunday. Since then, Uwimbabasi and her children are being aided by neighbors they hardly know.
At first, according to Uwimbabazi, the district had told RIB that the family would be given a rented home for some time as they prepared a new home for them. But when Uwimbabazi reached Ruhango, she was settled in the mud house seen in the photos.
The district official whom Uwimbabazi doesn’t remember also promised he would return the next day with food and other household items to support them for some time. Nobody from the district has yet to return to check on the family.
Back in the original village, Uwimbabazi had a home and farmland. But she cannot return there. Since she spent months at the Isange Center in Kigali, it means Uwimbabazi wasn’t able to work or till her farmland.
On the part of the Ruhango district administration, HABARUREMA Valens, the mayor of the district, denies abandoning Irena and has assured of her help.
“The problem is that the sector administration has not shown that it has failed to take care of it” Said the mayor
However, he says that as a district manager he is ready to receive and support the victim and the district is ready to provide her with any assistance that would enable her and the family to return to normal life.
As for the children of UWIMBABAZI who have not yet returned to school, the Mayor said that it would be a serious problem, only that the administration from the sector to the district, in collaboration with UWIMBABAZI Irena should identify the needs for these students to return to school.
Meanwhile, the Uwimbabazi tormentors are all free. The businessman who tortured her husband to death was granted bail and his case has yet to go to court.