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Where Are The Rwandan Prison Breakers?

Prison breaks are news hardly heard of in Rwanda.

On October 31, 2017, a former journalist, Cassien Ntamuhanga and two other prisoners escaped from Nyanza prison.

The Rwanda Correctional Service spokesperson CIP Hillary Sengabo, then confirmed the news that Ntamuhanga “escaped with two more inmates using ropes and jumped over the prison wall”.

Ntamuhanga, who worked for Amazing Grace Radio has been sentenced to 25 years in jail for conspiracy against the government and president, complicity in terrorism and plotting murder.

He escaped with two other prisoners; Sibomana Kirenge who was sentenced to 20 years for murder and Theogene Tambirije who was serving a 16 years sentence convicted of rape.

Their whereabouts has not yet been established.

According to the Rwanda Correctional Services, the three inmates are among the seven prisoners who have not yet been apprehended.

Yet, RCS says that from January until, 25 inmates escaped jail, but 17 among them were caught and returned them behind bars.

The Commissioner General for RCS, Brig. Gen. George Rwigamba says that the number of prison guards is still low; one prison guard per 39 prisoners.

Rwanda has 64,757 inmates, 28,806 of them convicted of genocide crimes.

Gen. Rwigamba says that most prisoners escape when they get out of the prisons for medication services or being taken to courts, except journalist Ntamuhanga with his two fellow prisoners who escaped from the prison.

There are reports that inmates escape due to the small number of prison guards, but Gen. Rwigamba dismisses. “It is not due to the small number, it depends on skills one uses.”

However, SIP Alexis Murenzi, in charge of operations says that RCS is on the hunt to bring back the prisoners. “The more they escape, the more energy we use cooperating with other authorities to return them [escapees] back to prisons”.

Educated in prisons

Meanwhile, when one is sent to prison, they start learning hands on work skills such as constructing, carpentry and welding”. Activities done by inmates include the construction of roads and bridges, agriculture, carpentry, welding, sewing and craft.

Last year, 11 inmates sat for national exams.

Current figures indicate that 99.6% are studying and 91% of the illiterates are currently learning how to read and how to write.

Juvenile prisoners in Nyagatare juvenile prison are 374 among whom 279 pursue primary education while 20 are doing secondary education.

Among these students, seventeen including one female who sat for the national Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) while five inmates sat for the Ordinary Level national examinations of this year.

Through activities done by prisoners countrywide, Rwanda Correctional Services contributed around Rwf1.7 billion to the national GDP.

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