An elderly woman Ayinkamiye Emmerance has been given some reprieve following an incident in which she was fined Rwf 50,000 (about $51) for allegedly stealing two cobs of maize.
The incident happened on Thursday morning in Karuruma village, Murandi cell, Remera sector of Musanze district in northern Rwanda.
Village officials and neighbors pounced on the elderly woman, parading her in the area in shaming act that has drawn condemnation. Ayinkamiye admitted that she had indeed picked two maize cobs from a farm in the valley because she was hungry as her potatoes farm had yet to grow.
However, the owner of the said stolen maize identified only as Jean de Dieu, backed by rowdy residents and local officials, decided that Ayinkamiye pays fine of Rwf 50,000 – an extremely exorbitant figure.
According to this group which decided the amount, the huge fine was imposed so that Ayinkamiye feels the gravity of her crime which would also make her vomit whenever she saw maize in future.
At the same gathering, when Ayinkamiye clearly demonstrated she was unable to pay the fine, her land on which she had potatoes was seized until she pays. In addition to the fine, Ayinkamiye was also required to pay Rwf 10,000 which was called “ay’inzoga y’abagabo” (or men’s reward) for the men who supposedly nabbed her.
The group also forced Ayinkamiye to sign a handwritten paper committing to pay the fine and the reward. Throughout the incident though, the elderly woman pleaded for mercy without anyone listening.
The Chronicles highlighted the case the same day on its Twitter account, which attracted wide condemnation. Some well-wishers also contacted us seeking details on how they could pay the fine for Ayinkamiye.
We have since established that Remera sector executive secretary Twagirimana Edouard personally stormed the village where the incident occurred on Friday and directed the maize owner to return everything that Ayinkamiye had paid.
The fine has been reduced to Rwf 15,000, which is still a very big amount of money for Ayinkamiye and many in the area.
The fine must be removed altogether and those involved condemned to send signal to others that such acts of madness cannot be tolerated.