It is 11:30am. Vicensia Nyiramihanda, 65, of Burango Village of Kabere Cell is weaving a traditional mat, sitting in her dining room as the scorching sun burns through the roof of her dilapidated house.
Outside, her daughter, Victoire Nyirabajyambere, 22, is pounding dry cassava to make flour, while carrying Alex Niyonkuru, a three months old baby boy, on her back.
But, where is the boy’s mother, Speciose Nyirabanguka?
Speciose Nyirabanguka died at Gisenyi Hospital in Rubavu District, on September 16, 2017, a week after delivery. She was only 15 years old. She was Nyiramihanda’s last born of the five children.
How did this happen?
One evening, some time in February 2017, little girl Speciose Nyirabanguka went to fetch water about 13km away from home. There was no running water in the taps.
She had arrived home late evening from school and found no water at home. Yet, she did need water to bath in the morning before gong to school. She had to go fetch the water. She went alone.
“It was already dark,” says Nyirabajyambere, her elder sister. “When she was returning, she met teacher James [Hakizimana] who was coming from his sugar cane fields.”
“He defiled her,” Nyirabajyambere testifies.
“She never reported the case. She feared to report the teacher, who was highly respected by everybody in the village,” adds Nyirabajyambere.
Apparently, the teacher gave her Rwf1, 000 so that she keeps it a secret.
Nyirabanguka was a senior two student at Groupe Scolaire Saint Pierre Kivumu. Her mother says that she learnt of her daughter’s defilement and pregnancy six months later.
Taarifa visited the family deep in the village.
She told our reporter that her daughter kept studying as usual. She woke up early morning everyday to go to school, but would return home late evening. She kept having her lunch at school.
At last, the story came to light when the girl’s pregnancy was discovered. Neighbors began talking about her pregnancy before her mother discovered it.
Almost every person in Kabere cell, one of the five cells that make Kivumu Sector of Rutsiro District, waswhispering about her pregnancy.
Neighbours told Taarifa that the family confronted the teacher and then he offered a bribe so that they keep it a secret. The family demanded for more money, but the teacher, according to neighbours, said he was not able to raise the money the demanded for as a settlement. He fled.
Meanwhile, the family invited a community health worker to examine her and provide her with prenatal medical care. Until then, the girl had refused to personally reveal the name of the defiler. The family engaged village authorities. She thereafter revealed the name in the village meeting on the following day, of which the wife to the defiler attended.
During the meeting, the family, neighbours say, pretended they did not know the defiler. But some members of the village authorities knew the family was lying. They had heard about their negotiations with the defiler. Local authorities had picked up the case before the two parties came to a settlement.
Meanwhile, after the Village meeting, the village authorities went to Kivumu Police Station with the victim and her mother and reported the case.
Police is still on a hunt as the case pends in Karongi Intermediate Court. The village has not come to terms with the sad story. Even strangers are told about this inhumane act.
A few days this drama, the girl gave birth, prematurely, from Gisenyi Hospital, on September 9, 2017. Fortunately both the baby and the mother survived.
The baby was placed in an incubator, with her mother being in the hospital.
A week later, the girl developed complications and died on September 16, 2017. Nyiramihanda says that her daughter Nyirabanguka underwent severe pain before she died.
“She had severe pain…doctors tried to save her life but she died a day later,” says Nyiramihanda.
The baby was kept in the incubator and was released weeks later.
It cost the family Rwf42, 000 the day the baby was born.
Bernard Mvunabandi, the family’s first born, footed the bill. The teacher was nowhere to be seen.
Mvunabandi also covered the other medical bills worth Rwf49,700 for the milk that the kid lived on while in the incubator and days after being released.
Isange One Stop Centre later paid other pending bills as the family could not handle all the bills.
Taarifa has seen that indeed the family lives under extreme poverty. Even putting food on the table is a problem.
Nyiramihanda, a widow, says it’s difficult for her to raise the baby, who only feeds on special and costly milk. She currently is appealing to any good Samaritans for help.
Jean Hermans Butasi, Rutsiro District Vice Mayor in Charge of Social Affairs says that defilement, rape and unwanted pregnancies, are rampant in the district.
From 2016 to 2017, unwanted pregnancies in girls were 237 in the district.
Of them, 17 are under 17 years, 32 being 18 years old while 188 girls are aged between 19 and 20 years.
Nationally, more than 17,000 girls aged between 16 and 19 years were impregnated in 2016.
Child defilement attracts life imprisonment sentence in Rwanda as provided by article 191 of the penal code.