The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) is holding four men suspected of being behind a series of criminal activities, which include kidnapping women and girls who they robbed and raped in different parts of the City of Kigali.
The gang, led by one Yves Habumuremyi, 26, the mastermind, is said to have been luring women and girls with ‘business opportunities’ through social media platforms and dating site Tinder, before raping them and robbing them clean.
According to the Spokesperson of RIB, Dr. Thierry B. Murangira, the suspects used the same ‘modus operandi’, where they would arrange to meet their unsuspecting victims, offering to transport them to the meeting venue for a ‘business meeting’.
Upon entering the car, the victims would be strangled by Habumuremyi’s accomplices who either sat behind the victim or forced themselves into the car and threatened their targets with a knife, forcing them to transfer money while at the same time sexually abusing them.
“Between 10 November 2021 and 1 December 2021, various RIB Stations in Kigali received complaints from 8 different women between the ages of 21-30 who had been victimised in a similar manner,”
“Upon examining the complaints, we realised that they were committed with the same modus operandi. We immediately began operations to identify the culprits and between December 6 and December 14, we were able to arrest four people,” Dr. Murangira said on Thursday.
According to RIB, the gang, whose members included Pacific Bizimana, 21, Emmanuel Gatete, 29 and Aimable Mugisha, 26, who was the driver of the hired vehicles they used, relied on social media platforms and the dating site Tinder to lure their victims.
“The suspects used different social media platforms but more especially Tinder, a dating site where people make new friends or partners but also in a sense used to start business partnerships, paying a subscription fee ranging from $10-30 per month,”
“Via Tinder, Habumuremyi would seduce girls and women aged between 21 to 30, seeking friendship or love. The suspects took their time to talk to their targets, gathering as much information as possible during that period,” Dr. Murangira said.
Among other things, the suspects would also find out personal details of their would-be victims, where they live, what they do, their interests and more while at the same time, disguising themselves as prospective businessmen or investors, using fake pictures.
Once the victims started feeling comfortable and to a point where they are ready to meet physically for a ‘dinner’ to discuss business, Habumuremyi would rent a car from unsuspecting transport service providers to embark on his mission.
Habumuremyi would then offer to pick-up his unsuspecting victims from their point of choice and then mention that they are going to a certain hotel.
However, upon entering the car, the victims would be strangled by someone sitting behind or his accomplices who would force themselves in the car and threaten them with a knife and force them to do whatever they wanted, including transferring money from their mobile phones or bank accounts.
The suspects sexually assaulted their victims before dumping them off in isolated places, threatening to hurt them if they reported the matter.
Habumuremyi denied all the charges, claiming that he had a dispute over money with one girl he met on Tinder and she framed him.
However, the driver, Mugisha, confessed that he recalls two incidents involving two females but claimed that he was not aware of what was going on.
“I had just returned from Rwamagana, looking for a job. I had a driving license and I knew Habumuremyi from way back. He called me and said that he wanted me to be driving him around since he was drinking,”
“I agreed and on different occasions he would come in with girls and his friends and ask me to take them wherever they wanted,” Mugisha said, claiming that he had no idea what was going on, though he said that he heard the girls scream on different occasions.
Victims speak out
One of the victims (names withheld) said that she had been talking to Habumuremyi for some time, discussing a chilli business deal and she developed trust but insisted on him coming to her place to say hello.
She said that Habumuremyi, parking outside her gate, convinced her to sit in the car and they talk briefly. As soon as she sat in the car, someone grabbed her from behind, by the neck, and the car drove off.
They forced her to transfer funds from her mobile money and account at knife point and started to sexually abuse her. They later dumped her somewhere in Kibagabaga and threatened to hurt her if she tried to memorise the car plate or report.
The second victim said that Habumuremyi purported to be a Nigerian businessman who was in Rwanda to look for investment opportunities, offering to work with her. He claimed to be residing in a certain Kicukiro-based hotel where they were supposed to meet.
When she was picked up, the destination of the car kept changing and when she started asking questions, another person entered the car and she was forced to sit between two men, one holding a knife.
“When I said I didn’t have money on the account or mobile phone, they started to sexually assault me, raping me and threatening to kill me if I don’t call people and ask them to send money,” she said.
She pointed out that they had told her to look for Rwf500,000 by hook or crook or die.
After a long night moving her around and raping her, they dumped her somewhere and threatened her, with Habumuremyi allegedly telling her that she should blame it on her love for foreigners.
The suspects face six charges which carry between two years and life imprisonment if found guilty. They include rape, punishable under Article 134 of Law No68 / 2018 of 30/08/2018 which provides for crimes and punishments in general and if found guilty can be jailed for life.
Other charges include infecting another person with a disease, which is punishable by Article 117. When the disease in question is an incurable one, the sentence is imprisonment not less than 20 years in prison and not more than 25 years and a fine ranging between Rwf500, 000 and Rwf1m.
Other charges include establishment of a criminal gang, robbery, kidnapping and being complicit in criminal activities.
RIB cautioned the public, especially youth to be careful with who they interact with or meet online and avoid meeting such people before finding out who they are.
Dr. Murangira warned criminals who use technology to trick people to fall into their criminal trap that they can run but they cannot hide. Soon or later, the long arm of the law will catch up with them.