Home NewsNational ‘We Are Starting to Overdo It’ – Thirty Years Later, A Witness Still Wonders What Interahamwe Meant 

‘We Are Starting to Overdo It’ – Thirty Years Later, A Witness Still Wonders What Interahamwe Meant 

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
5:14 pm

Cyahafi Genocide memorial-some of the genocide victims who lay to rest here were found in a mass grave from Amgar compound

A witness in a Genocide trial has told the court that thirty years after the tragedy, she is still wondering what Interahamwe militia intended to mean when they were taking her family.

At Brussels Court of Assizes – Belgium, a woman who was 15 years old during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi testified in a trial where Emmanuel Nkunduwimye who co-owned a garage in Gitega-Kigali is accused of Genocide and war crimes.

After the crash of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane, April 6,1994 night, Interahamwe visited their home in Nyamirambo, a place called Terminus.

“Most wanted”, the father of the family escaped to a neighboring family while the rest stayed at home fearing for their lives.

After three weeks, she said, Interahamwe who had kept threatening to kill us ordered that we should give them money to protect us.

The militia asked Rwf 200,000 per person, but the family negotiated until they accepted Rwf 100,000 for each of the eight family members.

According to the witness, Interahamwe militia headed by their national leaders Robert Kajuga and vice president George Rutaganda, also joined by Nkunduwimye were on top of the armed group that threatened to kill this family of a currant senior politician in Rwanda today.

They drove them to a family of a diplomat from a Lybian embassy in Rwanda. In fact, the father of the witness was working  from this embassy.

They stayed there for a while until the trio planned to relocate them to Mille Collines Hotel.

“A long the way, we came across several road blocks where the Tutsi were being savagely killed, but the people who were protecting us would advocate for us,” she said.

“We reached the roadblocks at Amgar garage where Rutaganda and Nkunduwimye entered the compound and brought some ammunition and fuel before proceeding to Milles Collines.”

Amgar garage near the street light of Gakinjiro in Nyarugenge – Kigali, was co-owned by Rutaganda and Nkunduwimye.

At the level of ETO Muhima, a technical high school in city center, the family was again taken off the vehicle where they faced death threat, but Kajuga who was driving, and his fellow interahamwe on board again spoke to those on the roadblock. They allowed them back on board.

“Along our way, interahamwe spoke to each other and said: we are starting to overdo it,” the witness recalls.

“I have never understood the point they wanted to make.”

Meanwhile, a couple of days after arriving at Milles Collines, the same Interahamwe who brought them returned to Nyamirambo and found the father of the family who also joined his children.

They did not leave the place, not until the displaced people from the hotel were requested to make a choice between joining the Rwanda Patriotic Army(RPA) Inkotanyi or the then Force Armees Rwandaises(FAR).

“We chose RPA side and were drove to Kabuga in Kigali city outskirts. That’s how we survived the genocide,” she said.

In this testimony, the civil party’s lawyer Martin Karongozi said: “We have heard a substantial testimony which can confirm the role of the three people in the genocide.”

He further said: “We should also note the severity of the roadblocks in the genocide and how Rutaganda, Nkunduwimye and Kajuga had the power over the interahamwe militia.”

A part from killings, it seems that during the Genocide, the interahamwe leaders had made it a point to harvest money from their targets whom in some instance they would kill still.

A neighbor of this family also testified having paid the same Interahamwe leaders Rwf 300,000.

The compound of former Amgar garage where witnesses said the suspect-Nkunduwimye and Interahamwe leaders used to massacre the Tutsi

“They first took me, then returned to ask for their pay when they brought my family,” said the witness, 66 years old.

“At that time, a dollar was worth Rwf 80,” the witness further said when the court asked him the value of that money in that  time.

At Mille Collines, the witness found Wyclif Kajuga, the brother to Interahamwe leader whom he begged to speak to his brother Robert Kajuga, so that he accepts to take his family at the hotel too.

“They brought two cabs and took us  to Milles Collines,” said the wife who also testified today. At that time, it was hard because she had a baby.

“Nkunduwimye would speak for us every time at a roadblock so that they allow us to continue,” said the wife.

The civil parties insisted on the power that had Nkunduwimye. They said that he “had made it a business to harvest money among the Tutsi whom he pretended to protect” and would always help them go through roadblocks, without any harm.

The defence however, argued that, their client was not the one negotiating the money to pay the people on roadblocks.

They also argued that the witnesses “Are changing their words in regard to the person who used to help them go through roadblocks. Previously, they claimed that it was Rutaganda, now they are changing to allege that it was our client-Nkunduwimye. The court should look into that.”

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