In 1986, former President Habyarimana’s government contracted a Chinese company to construct a 98km road from Kayonza district to Kagitumba border with Uganda, Eastern Rwanda.
Months later, construction works began. The Chinese company set a quarry site three kilometres from the main road in Kiziguro sector, then Murambi commune (current Gatsibo district).
Construction ended in 1990, and the quarry site had turned into a deep-curved massive hole.
The former Murambi commune burgomaster (mayor), Jean Baptiste Gatete, popularly known as the ‘Butcher of Murambi’, due to his active role in the killings of thousands of Tutsi during the genocide, had a plan for the site.
“I saw his vehicle visiting the site many times,” says Jean Bosco Burakari, a genocide survivor.
Gatete, in collaboration with Onesphore Rwabukombe who was then leader of a neighbouring district, Muvumba Commune, agreed on a mission to expel all Tutsi who lived in Muvumba and its neighbouring districts. They forced them to seek refuge near the site as the only available refugee camp.
The survivor, Burakari, who was then 26 years old told KTPress that Gatete and Rwabukombe renamed the quarry site ‘Rwabayanga’.
On February 8, 1992 Gatete and Rwabukombe’s mission began. They ordered Interahamwe militia to transport Tutsi on trucks and kill them before dumping them in Rwabayanga in broad day light.
On February 10, Emannuel Munyurangabo, a survivor who escaped the extermination, told KTPress “They (Interahamwe) transported my three sisters, two brothers and my mother in a truck.” “They drove off towards Rwabayanga and that was their end.”
Another survivor of Rwabayanga massacre, Leonard Karangwa said Gatete was receiving orders from Prosper Mugiraneza, the former Minister of Public Service.
“The two held several night meetings during weekends. I was young but I witnessed everything,” says Mugiraneza.
An estimated 2000 Tutsi were burried in the hole. According to Ibuka, the umbrella organisation of genocide survivors, 5000 Tutsi were killed in Murambi Commune alone.
Gatete is now in prison serving a 40-year sentence for his genocide crimes.