They were arrested on Sunday, June 12, by the Police, local leaders and District Administrative Security Support Organ (DASSO) in the sectors of Nzahaha, Bugarama and Muganza.
Gukura Ibyinyo (tooth bud removal) and guca ibirimi (uvulectomy), is usually done on infants, typically performed by self-styled traditional healers in non-sterile conditions using basic sharp instruments like nails, knives, scissors and forks. They believe that this violent practice on children will cure fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Uvulectomy is normally a surgical procedure in which all or part of the uvula is removed. The uvula is a bell-shaped organ that hangs from the top of the throat.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Bonaventure Twizere Karekezi, the Police spokesperson for the Western region, said that the operations followed increasing cases of the harmful and fatal traditional practice in Rusizi District, especially in the sectors of Nzahaha, Bugarama, Muganza, Gikundamvura and Butare.
“We have identified eight fake traditional healers in Rusizi District, who are engaged in this traditional harmful practices. Five have been arrested but three others are yet to be arrested,” SP Karekezi said.
He identified those arrested as Emmanuel Gasigwa, 68, Joseph Majyambere, 39, Ignace Ngirinshuti, 40, Elysée Tuyishime, 31, and Rachel Uwamahoro, 44.
“During the operations on Sunday, Police found 14 parents at the home of Ignace Ngirinshuti, who had brought their babies for either tooth bud removal and uvulectomy. Ngirinshuti was using dangerous objects like scissors, knives and forks, which were also seized. The suspects and exhibits were handed over to Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and Muganza station,” SP Karekezi said.
At least 28 children with these oral mutilation complications have been admitted at Mibirizi hospital in Rusizi District between January and June this year. Of these, 22 were treated and discharged, three transferred, and two fatalities.
“These are unacceptable violent and life-threatening practices done in unhygienic places and methods, which can also cause or transmit other diseases to the infants. We call upon the public to always take their children to health centres and hospitals for medical services instead of risking their lives in the hands of local traditional healers.
Operations against traditional healers engaged in these dangerous and fatal practices are continuous, and we call upon the general public to be responsive against these practices by reporting those involved so as to save lives of children,” SP Karekezi reiterated.
Medical experts say that the Infant Oral Mutilation (IOM) inflicts pain and suffering on child, who may be sick, teething on healthy. The procedure may lead to shock, and loss of blood may lead to anaemia. The unhygienic methods applied during exodontia of decidous canine tooth buds can cause blood infections, tetanus, pass on HIV/AIDS, facial disfigurement and can be fatal.