A woman whose husband was shot dead for the only crime of “smuggling matchboxes from Uganda into Rwanda” has spoke out. Rhodah Ahimbisibwe, now 35, spoke to the BBC on Monday as Rwanda and Uganda reopened their border for the first time in three years.
The mother of five vividly remembers the day in 2020 when she learnt of the death of her husband, Sidney Muhereza.
“I got a call from the Rwandan police. They said: ‘Do you know this person?’ I said: ‘That is my husband.’ They told me that he had been killed. That he was caught smuggling”.
I got a call from the Rwandan police. They said:
“Do you know this person?’ I said: ‘That is my husband.’ They told me that he had been killed. That he was caught smuggling“.
He was killed on the first of June. We received the body on the eighth. The two governments got involved. That is how his body was returned.
“He was using illegal paths to take his goods. So, what he did was wrong because the official crossing was closed. But they (assassins) could have arrested him, and maybe held him – and released him to us later, after serving his punishment. They shouldn’t have shot him dead.”
She says she now works on other people’s farms to earn a living.
“When I work for a day, I earn about 3,500 Ugandan shilling (about $0.80; £0.60). That is how I feed my children. I have three boys and two girls. Three of the children are in school.”
Ms Ahimbisibwe’s message is simple:
” I am asking the Ugandan and Rwandan governments to reconcile and normalise relations – to be like they were in the past. So that we can cross into Rwanda, and that Rwandans can come here too. We the ordinary people need to be able to work together again.”
The Rwandan army and police have not only killed Sidney Muhereza, whose wife spoke, but caused also many to be orphans and widows,and their families are still suffering from resentment towards the Rwandan authorities.Other known Ugandans killed by Rwandan army/police are:
Kyerengye John Batista
Byarushaga Ayub Job
Tuherwe John Bosco
Many other unidentified individuals were shot dead and killed on the Rwandan side on suspicion of smuggling into Rwanda, while Rwandans who were detained in Uganda we saw them alive repatriated.
source/photo and some text elements : bbc