Negligence has been blamed for the death of a 12-year-old student at Ecole des Sciences de Musanze over the weekend after it was alleged that school authorities denied her permission to go home, keeping her at school, despite her deteriorating condition.
Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) on Monday confirmed that it arrested the school nurse, identified as Jean Nyiramugisha, who is accused of holding 12-year-old Ange Cécile Umuhire in the school dispensary for nearly a week until she passed on May 13 in the Northern Province-based school.
Nyiramugisha, who was also in charge of discipline and ethics, was arrested the same day and is being held at Muhoza RIB Station, her file pending transfer to Prosecution.
The passing of Umuhire, who was in S1, caused anger, with social media users and commentators accusing Church-owned schools for being ruthlessly hard on children, especially when it comes to seeking permission to go home due to a health condition.
According to the RIB Spokesperson, Dr. Thierry B. Murangira, Nyiramugisha, investigations into the incident are ongoing to uncover more on the incident which has been blamed on negligence. RIB warned caregivers against neglecting duty, which is in contravention of the law.
“Negligence of responsibility or failure to help a person in danger when you have the duty is punishable under Article 244 of Law No. 68/2018 of 30/08/2018 that provides for crimes and penalties in general,” Dr. Murangira said, adding that those charged with neglecting the deceased child at a time of need will be held accountable.
If found guilty, the person can be condemned to imprisonment of not less than 1 year but not more than 3 years and a fine not less than 300,000 FRW but not more than 500,000 FRW.
“RIB cautions concerned parties that neglecting duty to help or not helping a person in danger is a crime punishable by law and this is something everyone should pay attention to,” he added.
What the school says
The Director of the Ecole des Sciences de Musanze, Fr. Florent Nikwigize Florent, said that Umuhire passed on suddenly after she had confirmed that her condition had improved.
Fr. Nikwigize said that on Thursday, May 11, 2023, Umuhire asked for permission to go to a private clinic in Musanze to have eye checked and returned the same morning.
She said that though her eye had improved, she still had a headache. On Friday evening, he checked on her at the school dispensary and she still complained about the headache, though she had generally improved. She had company.
That same night, Umuhire is said to have been monitored and slept with her elder sister who studies in S4 at the same school. Fr. Nikwigize did not get any other information until Saturday when he was called by a nurse at Ruhengeri Hospital who has a child at the same school, informing him that the child had passed on.
He also learnt that Umuhire had collapsed in the night and the nurse called her family to inquire if she normally had an issue of fainting.
Fr. Nikwigize said that he had been reading a mass when he got the information that Umuhire had passed on by the time they arrived at the district referral hospital. He however says that there was no negligence but said that investigations will reveal what exactly transpired before Umuhire breathed her last.
Burial for the youngster had been set for May 15 but it was called off to allow a postmortem to determine what exactly killed the young student.