Four Rwandans operating businesses in Ngozi Province of Burundi have been under arrest since July 2016 with their families kept in the dark about their whereabouts, according to information obtained by IGIHE from Samuel Ndabigengesereye, a Rwandan businessman in the same region.
Ndabigengesereye from Rusizi district of Western Province has said that the four arrested men used to work with him in a restaurant and in a bakery called Goshen but were arrested by Burundi police at the dawn of 26th July 2016 as they returned home from Rubuye where their businesses operate from.
He has told IGIHE that the four men of whom two are relatives were arrested after identifying themselves as Rwandans.
“I witnessed the arrest. I saw policemen following us which made my heart skip-beat. I went aside to buy airtime from a nearby shop from where I saw police taking them,” he said.
“Later I saw a police car with police men who asked the four men ‘are you Rwandans?’After identifying themselves Rwandans they were asked to enter the car and ordered to lie on their bellies.”
The four men are Hitimana Joseph, Mbarushimana Mathias and Ndagijimana Protais from Rusizi district ,Nzahaha sector in Butambamo cell along with Nzamwitakuze Joseph nicknamed Yakim from Rubavu district.
Samuel explained that the matter was reported to Rwanda’s embassy in Bujumbura where they were asked to give identifications of missing Rwandans but have not yet got any response.
Samuel added that the case was also reported to immigration and emigration office leadership and police in Rusizi district.
“ We want to know whether they are still alive or dead,” he said.
Mukahirwa Esther, the wife of Hitimana Joseph, 43, with whom they have seven children has told IGIHE that he is worried of the situation of her husband.
The arrested men worked for Kwizera Pierre who said that he decided to abandon the business and returned to Rwanda after his employees were arrested.
Ndabigengesereye Samuel has also told IGIHE that he remained in Burundi for a while, reported the case to Burundi leaders but returned to Rwanda on 29th July 2016.
We are still trying to talk to Rwanda embassy in Burundi about the situation.
At the end of 2015, Jacques Bihozagara, Rwanda’s former diplomat was arrested by Burundi intelligence services and jailed in Mpimba prison where he later died. Many other Rwandans are detained in Burundi prisons.
Burundi has been accusing Rwanda of threatening its security a claim which Rwanda has categorically denied. Burundi got into political crisis in May last year when president Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid for another term which he won later in contested elections that was followed by protests and mass violence in the country.
Rwanda accommodates tens of thousands of Burundi many refugees who fled the country following the security breakdown.