A man who was recently lynched in Rubavu district on suspicion of stealing a bunch of bananas has succumbed to his injuries, two days after Rwanda National Police (RNP) arrested two of the five men seen in the video beating Salomon Niyonzima.
The 27-year old died on Saturday night at Rubavu District Hospital where he was being treated, according to local officials in the district.
Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) on Sunday confirmed the ‘unfortunate news’ of the passing of Niyonzima, adding that some of the people who were caught on camera lynching the resident of Rugerero sector, Rubavu district were arrested.
“Some of the people who were involved in the act of mob justice have been arrested while others are still on the run and they will be charged with assault and causing bodily harm, resulting into death of an individual,” RIB said.
RIB reminded the general public that mob justice and other forms of self-administered justice are illegal and punished by the law.
According to Faustin Nkurunziza, the Executive Secretary of Rugerero Sector, Niyonzima breathed his last on late Saturday night towards Saturday morning, with initial reports suggesting that he could have suffered from internal bleeding as a result of the beating and trauma.
“We are still looking for the culprits. When we got two of the five men seen in the video, the others escaped and are still on the run,” Nkurunziza said in a phone interview, adding that local authorities are looking for ways to facilitate his family for funeral arrangements amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
He said the sector and the district have embarked on efforts to support vulnerable families and individuals to avoid similar incidents as the country continues to observe a two weeks lockdown aimed at preventing Covid-19.
The video which went viral was first flagged by local journalist Angelbert Mutabaruka showing four men holding a man in the air by his legs and arms while another man exerted strokes as others looked on.
Police said it arrested 2 men and was looking for the other 3 of the 5 men who were filmed lynching Niyonzima.
The incident is said to have happened on March 25, in Rugerero Sector, Rubavu District. The arrested include Jean Baptiste Niyonzima, 30, Jean Bosco Bitwayiki, 37 while their colleagues Francois Bipfakubaho and another one only identified as Nshimiye are still on the run.
Earlier this week, the Spokesperson of RNP, CP John Bosco Kabera warned the public against engaging in acts of self-administered justice which is against the law.
“Self-administered justice is unlawful and punishable by law. It’s intentional assault or battery punishable under article 121 of the law determining offences and penalties in general in Rwanda,”
“A crime can’t be rectified by another crime. The justice sector is there to ensure that when a crime is committed, professionals and accredited institutions handle it appropriately. When you take matters in your own hands, you will have committed a crime and you will be equally held accountable,” CP Kabera said.
The Police Spokesperson said those who will be caught will be dealt with the law, encouraging citizens to hand over suspected criminals to the law enforcement organs or local leaders other than taking matters in their own hands.