On June 6, 2021 a school teacher and patron in one of the international schools in Kigali City confiscated a golden necklace valued at Rwf1.5million from one of his students.
The patron conducted the action under the schools guideline, which is not different from many local schools where students are not allowed to possess jewelry, phones while at school.
Following the school guidelines, the teacher (of Ugandan nationality) is reported to have told the student that the necklace will be kept and returned to him at the end of this semester.
According to grassroots security reports, the 19 year old student waited till the end of the school term to request for his personal property, only to be told by the patron that the necklace got lost.
The student (names withheld) immediately reported the case to Rwanda Investigation Bureau at Rusororo RIB Station where the crime allegedly took place.
KTPress has learned that Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) has since July 1, 2021 received the case and it is currently under investigation, however officials say that the crime of breach of trust is on the rise.
“We have received the case and are currently conducting an investigation,” RIB Spokesman Dr. Thierry B. Murangira said in a statement sent to KTPress.
“We however are seeing an alarming change in the number of cases of breach of trust committed in society, which was not the case a few years ago,” Murangira said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
For instance, RIB figures show that from July 2018 to June 2021, offences of breach of trust have increased 118.57%.
This increase is derived from the 1,139 cases and 1,346 offenses recorded in 2018/19 to 2,486 cases and 2,942 offences handled between July 2020 and as of June 2021.
Source: Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) 2021
Cultural and Legal Perspectives
Trust is one of the most highly regarded values of human integrity in the Rwandan culture and community ethical values.
Breach of trust is different from theft, wherein the latter is taking another person’s property without his/her consent with an intention to make it his/her own property or use it; while the former is when a person is given or entrusted with an item and who is obliged to return it or use it as instructed but who misappropriates, embezzles, scatters or gives it to another person, commits an offence.
Murangira says that people tend to confuse these two offences. “Breach of trust (criminal matter) is often confused with breach of contract (civil matter). The latter is a violation of any of the agreed-upon terms and conditions of a binding contract,” he explained.
The breach could be anything from a late payment to a more serious violation such as the failure to deliver a promised asset.
Legal expert opinion indicates that it is not easy for citizens to differentiate between breach of contract and breach of trust, but it all starts with the aspect of trusting especially in business and social circles.
Maitre Moise Nkundabarashi, a lawyer, says it is the duty of legal experts to help a citizen and to determine if their case is a civil or commercial case; however most cases which end up in commercial courts are caused by breach of contract.
Nature of the issue is very important but proof is important and if dome proof we can choose which case to take or what orientation.
“Even when trust is important among business people, we advise our clients to have a form of proof or agreement if the funds exchanged is more than Rwf50, 000. Whenever entering into a contract you must do this, so as to give proof in criminal or civil proceedings,” Nkundabarashi said.
Even if trust is good and ideal culturally, to avoid these challenges Nkundabarashi advises one to have proof in records such as short conversation messages on the transactions, on accounts and mobile money; signed documents and even witnesses.
Examples of recurrent cases of breach of trust include: borrowing a taxi motorbike and later claim it was stolen, landlords getting rent payment and not availing the house or renting to another person,
Dealers/ logistics Company not delivering clients’ orders of cars and goods from Dubai and China, selling off entrusted property, company gadgets; not depositing informal group savings (Ibimina) into a bank account or using the savings for personal benefits; selling off ones livestock that is reared in your farmland on grounds of mutually benefiting from its products.
Article 176 of law nº 68/2018 of 30/08/2018 determining offences and penalties in general provides that if one is convicted of breach of trust, they can get a jail term not less than three years but not more than five years.
This comes with a fine from Rwf500, 000 upwards but not exceeding Rwf1million.