A young woman from Rugarama village, Nyinya cell, Rukira sector, Ngoma district has been reliving one of the most painful episodes of her life for nearly a year.
Nimukuze Beatha, 20, was raped by a man who at first pretended to help. A local health center gave her medication to prevent her from contracting HIV/Aids, in case the rapist had the virus. RIB’s local office followed the case which confirmed the rape. But then, the case just died!
When our reporter sought to report about Nimukuze’s case, she was adamant to speak because she said she had told her ordeal to many different institutions which have not helped.
The evening of June 22, last year has changed the life of the young woman. Nimukuze was coming from the local SACCO when Rusibira Michael, a moto taxi rider offered her a ride home as they lived in same area.
She narrated: “A moto taxi came from behind honking. I moved off the narrow road. He stopped saying he knew my home. He said ‘my sister I cannot leave you on the road at this time’. I declined but he insisted assuring me that there was nothing to worry about.”
Nimukuze jumped on the moto and off they rode. After some distance, they stopped at an area called Kamarashavu. It was way past 6pm. Nimukuze says the rider indicated that he had a friend he needed to see before they continued.
“I urged him to let me walk home. He insisted saying; ‘please be patient. The person I’m meeting won’t take long. Besides, there was some money I owe your mother which I want to repay’…”
They branched off to a different direction, leaving the road to Nimukuze’s home area. As they rode on a small pedestrian pathway, Nimukuze says she began feeling extremely uncomfortable and fearful.
Along the way, the moto taxi rider kept on assuring her all was OK, at some point saying they wouldn’t go off the moto when they reached at the friend’s place he intended to meet.
Suddenly we reached area with no homes. It was already dark, and with such a rural place, people will be in their homes with no one walking around.
Nimukuze says the moto rider stopped. “I asked if the moto had a mechanical problem, which he didn’t answer. As we stood there, he told me to lay down, which I refused.”
The moto rider told her; “ugiye kumpa ku kabi nakeza” (literary meaning ‘today you have to give me the good and bad that you have’.
Nimukuze says she was so frightened. Within seconds as she thought of her next move, Rusibira grabbed and threw her down. He was on top of her covering her mouth so she couldn’t make any noise.
Since Nimukuze has a physical disability, it was difficult to fight back against her attacker. She has a paralysis in the right side of body, and is unable to use her right hand. Nimukuze is also said to have heart problems.
After the rape, her abuser then forced her to get back on the moto and abandoned her near home.
While at home, Nimukuze narrated he ordeal to her mother Nyiransikije Emerita with whom they live alone. They agreed on heading to the health center immediately to get medication that prevents contracting HIV/Aids within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.
There of course, they had to divulge the whole horrific experience to medical officials who allowed them to stay for the night.
The next morning, the mother and daughter headed to the Rukira police station to report her case. They were given a clearance form to present at the Kibungo Referral Hospital Isange One Stop Center, a site established across Rwanda where women facing abuse are supported.
At Isange Center, Nimukuze and her mother tell us that the daughter underwent tests to ascertain he rape claims. In a rather unusual move, the medical official there told them that the results are not given to victim, but rather forwarded to institution which requested for the test.
The two women left to head to Rukira RIB office. There, the mother and daughter say they were treated badly. They waited for a whole week to receive the rape test results from Kibungo Hospital. Even then, the case was received after they threatened to report elsewhere.
While back home, a RIB Officer who identified herself as Iradukunda Liliane came to visit them at home to deliver the results. The Officer informed the rape victim and her mother that the results confirmed her rape.
The victim tells us; “The RIB officer said she was sorry for my painful expensive, and that she would ensure I got justice.”
However, the RIB officer didn’t give her the results, but just said the results verbally.
In the days that followed, the suspect Rusibira Michael would come near the home of the victim as if conducting reconnaissance. He then disappeared.
The mother and daughter were never informed whether the suspect had been arrested. The RIB officer didn’t return. They later learnt that the suspect had relocated to Kageyo in Kayonza district, several dozen kilometers away.
Days went by without any update from Rukira sector RIB office. The rape victim and her mother went to the district’s RIB headquarters, where they were referred to the Prosecutor’s office which is located at the Intermediate Court of Ngoma.
“The prosecutor gave us some details about my dossier. They said the suspect was summoned and he gave his side of the story that he had never raped me; that he transported me on his moto taxi like he does with every passenger. The prosecutor said the suspect was let free to go home.”
For the two women, it was at this point they came to the realisation that their case may never go anywhere. They never went back to RIB, neither the prosecutor’s office.
The case of Nimukuze Beatha is just one of thousands of young girls and young women whose abuse has only been recorded by the authorities as a statistic.
Government data shows that since 2016 to end of 2019, a total of 78,646 girls under 18 years were defiled and impregnated by men – some fit to be their grandfathers. The eastern province where Nimukuza lives, accounts for biggest number at 36.1% of the cases, southern at 21%, northern with 16.5% western at 15.2%, and Kigali with 11.2%.
However, RIB figures show that 4,265 men were convicted in 2019-2020 period for defiling underage girls, which is less than 20% of the men involved for a single year.
Nimukuze’s case may be a little different since she is above 18. But had she become pregnant from the rape, she, like hundreds out there, would be preparing to have a baby she never planned for, as well as permanent psychological trauma. All the while, as her abuser lives free, and probably planning his next victim.
By Uwizeya Camarade, Radio/TV IZUBA, Ngoma district