Woman in Bugesera District faces heavy fines in terms of money and corporal punishments from the people after being caught stealing a banana in a foreigner’s banana plantation, something which the District Mayor finds illegal punishment.
Led by the village chief, people in Rusekera Village, Kibungo Cell Ntarama Sector in Bugesera District are said to have attacked theft suspect Jacqueline Nyirahabimana and beat her and left her body cut to the wounds after catching her stealing a banana which she says was for cooking her children who were suffering from hunger.
Nyirahabimana was not only beaten and but also fined by the village administration the total amount of Rwf 350 000.
Speaking at TV One with a bandage on her right eye after she was hit with a machete by the banana plantation guards, Nyirahabimana sadly said she faced violation following what happened to her after she was caught showing up how different parts of her body, especially on her legs.
However, she says she is really less worried by the corporal violation she faced than the amount of money she was asked to pay to the banana owner, a fine which could lead her to selling all her properties mainly her land.
She is also wondering herself where she could cope with her four children everyday life if she sells the land, which she is yet to find a client to buy it.
Authorities assisting people holding punishments contrary to the law
Eugene Nsengiyumva, Rusekera Village chief has been involved in recent violence that Nyirahabimana has faced as he was seen assisting the scenes when the guards were beating her before he linked her with the banana owner for further talks over the fine she owed to the owner.
He said the Rwf 350 000-fine was decided after mutual talks between Nyiraghabimana and the banana owner.
He said, “we called the banana owner and he said that 40 bananas have already been stolen from his banana plantation worth Rwf 150 000 plus Rwf 200 000 he gave the guards. That is why she owes Rwf 350 000”
He said the money Nyirahabimana is required to pay should not be considered as fine but will be paid to cover what has been damaged.
Nyirahabimana’s neighbors say “the thief is s/he who is caught stealing” but admit she was fined too much money although others insist that she should pay the fine she owes to be a lesson to other thieves, ‘at least we would be safe on our properties’
However, Mayor Emmanuel Nsanzumuhire of Bugesera District says those who beat Nyirahabimana have done wrong as the law is against he who punishes another without legal permission and revealed he is trying to reach both sides (robber and banana owner) as well as local authorities
He said, “The government supports vulnerable people, we are going to ask the lower local authorities why they punished her illegally, so that we link the thief and the banana owner to see how the fine corresponding to the what has been stolen”
Even local authorities, and so called literate people are accused of holding punishments contrary to the law or even standing for such punishments, instead of being a good example to the general public.
The same cases have happened earlier this year
In Gatsibo, man was killed for stealing a banana from the village chief’s field.
The same happened at Gahengeri in Rwamagana, where one was also killed at his home. The order to kill was given by the banana owner who was a district employee in charge of taxes.
In Nyamagabe, people almost killed one who they expected was stealing their rabbits. The local officials were also there assisting.
At Kansi in Gisagara, 82-year-old man was killed with a spear by the guards of catholic brothers’ banana plantation after he was caught leaving the field with two bananas.
In Nyarugenge, night watchmen burned children to death for the reason yet to be revealed but the punishment can be found nowhere in the law governing the government of Rwanda while it was the it was implemented by those who are there to represent the country where one would wonder if the country has told them to engage into such scandals.
Such authorities are not the real leaders
Marie Immaculee Ingabire, the Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda sees no real leadership from those kinds of authorities
Speaking to Bwiza.com through a phone call, Ingabire said, “A leader who cannot differentiate the laws from his own understanding, and emotions of anger has no leadership in him/her”
She adds that an authority like that should not appear in Rwandan community when none struggles to differentiate him from others, but, “when such a scandal is committed by an authority, a citizen does it much better”
However, she also suggests that, « people should respect others’ properties on the other hand, stop stealing the their properties on which they spent all their sweats »
To those whose properties getstolen, Ingabire advise them to avoid punishing on their own those who steal thier properties while the police are around, because they may face legal action or be taken to prison
Articles 148 and 151 of the penal code in its 3rd part on the crimes of aggravated assaults and battery states that :
Article 148: Any person who intentionally causes injuries to another, or beats or commits any serious acts of violence against another person shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six (6) months to two (2) years and a fine of one hundred thousand (100,000) to five hundred thousand Rwandan francs (500,000) or one of these penalties
Article 151: If an offender commits battery or causes bodily injuries which result into death, the offender shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of ten (10) years to fifteen (15) years. If an offender has committed such acts of violence with premeditation or ambush, he/she shall be liable to life imprisonment.
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