Police in Rubavu District have arrested a traditional healer identified as Felicien Dusengimana, who had confined 17 people at his home, including mentally and physically incapacitated patients, claiming to be treating them.
The incident came to lights on November 21, the day of arrest, when one of the patients, who were mentally incapacitated, started up a fight igniting a fracas that drew the attention of neighbours and security organs.
According to the Police spokesperson for the western region, Chief Inspector of Police (CIP) Theobald Kanamugire; “The suspect had lured them into believing that he is a traditional healer who also had supernatural powers.”
Traditional medicine is defined as a total sum of knowledge, skills and practice based on theories and experiences of indigenous and used in maintenance, prevention and diagnosis of diseases, according to the World Health Organisation.
In Rwanda, only those accredited by the Ministry of Health are allowed to practice traditional medicine.
Apparently, Dusengimana, a father of two, is not among the credited traditional healers in Rwanda.
According to CIP Kanamugire, he kept all the people in his house and they could pay him frequently for his assumed services.
He noted that the fight that erupted, the neighbours, who already had suspicions of Dusengimana’s illegal activities, called the police.
“Any traditional healer has to be a member of their association and in this case, Dusengimana is not. Again, no one is allowed to practice traditional healing without the authorisation of the Ministry of Health. After thorough investigations, the suspect will be charged under article 616 of the penal code for usurpation of duties, titles and uniform with intent to mislead the public.”
The article details that, “if a person publicly wears a costume, gown, uniform, symbol or emblem which can make the public believe that he or she is a public authority by virtue of resemblance or a master allows or forces his or her servant to wear them, he or she shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rwf1million.”
The president of AGA Rwanda Network, an umbrella for traditional healers in Rwanda, Daniel Gafaranga, recently announced that out of the 14,000 traditional healers in the country, only about 2,300 of them are accredited.