Security has remained tight along the Uganda-Rwanda border in Kamwezi Sub County in Rukiga district following the shooting by a Rwandan Soldier, which cost the lives of two people.
The soldier shot dead John Batista Nkyerengye, a resident of Nkoma cell in Ntabarwe parish in Nyakatere District, Rwanda and Alex Nyesiga Atuheire, a resident of Nyakabungo village in Kyabuhangwa parish, Kamwezi Sub County Rukiga District on Friday evening at Mpororo trading Centre 80 meters inside Uganda.
Eye witnesses say the soldier shot the deceased during a scuffle to arrest Nkyerengye for allegedly smuggling second hand items into Rwanda from Uganda. Nkyerengye died on the spot while Nyesiga died on arrival at Kamwezi Health Centre IV for treatment.
Rwandan soldiers crossed into Uganda and tried to retrieve Nkyerengye’s body prompting Uganda police to shoot in the air to stop them. According to eye witnesses, the Rwandan soldiers who were about 40 in number only managed to return with the motorcycle, goods and unidentified Rwandan smuggler.
The Rwandan soldiers retreated to their country and were seen patrolling the areas about 1 and a half kilometers away from the border as heavily armed Uganda Police officers manned the crime scene and the neighborhood.
The Kigezi Deputy Region Police Commander, Dan Byaruhanga joined the officers at around 12pm.
He and the Rukiga District LC V Chairperson, Alexander Kampikaho and his Vice Chairperson, Jackson Muganiizi calmed down residents who were mobilizing to storm Rwanda and pick cows from farms to slaughter at Nyesiga’s funeral.
The Kigezi Region Police Commander, Richard Ecega joined the team around 3pm and assumed the overall command. He tasked Rwanda police officers to call their bosses to come to the scene of crime.
In less than three minutes, Pierre Tebuka, the Nyagatare District Police Commander and the Regional Police Commander-Eastern Province, Emmanuel Hatari arrived at the scene.
Ecega condemned the attack, saying there was no need for bloodshed among Africans since the boundaries were created by colonialists.
Ecega fumed when Hatari insisted that despite what happened, Rwanda soldiers will not relent on stopping smugglers. He tasked Hatari in vain him to explain what the law provides for when it comes to handling smugglers.
By 06:00pm, Ecega was still leading heavily armed security manning the “No Man’s land” on the Ugandan side while Tebuka was leading his team on their side of the border.
Uganda police transferred under Byaruhanga’s command transfers the bodies of the gunshot victims from Kamwezi Health Centre IV in Kamwezi Sub County in Rukiga district to Kabale Regional Referral hospital in Kabale district around 6:40pm after information leaked that Rwandan soldiers were planning to cross and steal Ncherengye’s body.
This isn’t the first time Rwandan soldiers are shooting at suspected smugglers. On May 3, 2019, Rwandan soldiers shot Innocent Ndahimana, a beans trader and resident of Nyakabungo Village in Chumbe in Gicumbi District Northern Province in Rwanda while smuggling beans to Uganda
through Katuna border in Kabale district.
Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda on February 27, 2019 to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs at Gatuna border. Rwanda advised truck drivers
destined to Kigali to use Kagitumba border via Mirama Hills.
However, Rwandan officials including President, Paul Kagame later accused Ugandan authorities of abducting its citizens and locking them up in ungazetted areas.
Rwanda also accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have declared war on the Kigali government.
Rwanda advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda, saying it can’t guarantee their safety. Rwanda also deployed security officials and destroyed all temporary bridges to bar Rwandans from crossing to Uganda.
Despite the border closure and warnings Rwandans continue to cross to Uganda using porous borders to look for food stuffs and goods.