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Sexually Abused Cycling Champion Patiently Waiting For Justice

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Eight months ago, a Rwandan female cycling champion, Bertin Mukarukundo, suffered a heartbreaking incidence as state detectives exhumed the body of her child as part of a scientific paternity investigation.

The young and ambitious cyclist, Mukarukundo was a teenager when she was sexually abused by her trainer while at a shared house in Remera, Kigali.

In 2016 she had won sector cycling tournament and selected to join other female cyclists in Kigali.

This encounter with team coach, Straton Nzabazumutima resulted into a pregnancy, which she concealed for fear of being fired by the cycling association and how family would react.

Mukarukundo continued cycling until she was almost six months pregnant and couldn’t cycle beyond that stage; “I decided to meet Munyenkaka Ancile, the team patron. I opened up to her about what happened to me and informed her I was going back home to my village in Gicumbi.”

With such a revelation Munyenkaka called for an urgent meeting the following day and the matter was discussed.

“It is from that meeting that the team coach Nzabazumutima admitted what he had done to me and put everything in writing,” Mukarukundo recounted her ordeal to Taarifa eight months ago.

“I agree to take full responsibility and I’m ready to provide all necessary support to that girl that got pregnant from my house,” Nzabazumutima said in part of the letter signed February 20, 2017.

After this meeting, Mukarukundo was immediately handed the letter and travelled to her village in Nyamiyaga sector.

She later gave birth but the baby died days after in very mysterious circumstances that have never been explained but Mukarukundo suspects foul play.

“My baby was very well at birth, I started breast feeding her then later doctors took her away from me saying she was crying a lot. I would go to where she was and feed her. However, two days later the doctors came to me and told me the baby had died,” Mukarukundo recounted with excruciating pain.

This tormented cyclist narrated that when she gave birth, “I informed our cycling team management and when my baby died, I also informed them but there was no form of support or help. I was just ignored and buried my baby.”

According to Mukarukundo, she doesn’t understand why doctors at the hospital did not give any document showing what caused the death of the baby.

This matter, so complex and involving influential persons was swept under the carpet until Taarifa took interest in it three years later.

At the beginning of this year, a specialised team composed of forensics experts, crime scene detectives and other unidentified officials drove for two hours to Nyamiyaga village in Gicumbi district for a special mission at Mukarukundo’s parents’ home.

Forensic experts at the burial spot

 

The forensic team was led to a portion in the banana plantation and showed a spot where a baby was buried years ago. A highly suspicious crowd of members of the village grew bigger and bigger.

The team from Kigali was composed of members of Rwanda Forensic Laboratory (RFL), Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA).

The burial spot was sealed off with crime scene tape and asked the crowding residents to leave.

It was a horrifying, sorrowful and hurting moment for Mukarukundo and parents watching these experts exhumed the body of an innocent soul.

National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) had reopened investigations into sexual abuse case in which a cycling coach Nzabazumutima had allegedly been involved in years earlier.

“Am aware, now, that NPPA has decided to reopen this investigation. One suspect Nzabazumutima Straton has been taken in custody as investigation continues,” Justice Minister, Johnston Busingye said on December 15, 2019.

Mukarukundo has been as patient as she waits for a miracle to happen and receive justice.

Mukarukundo explained that she wants justice; her dignity restored and be able to return to the cycling sport.

Since Rwanda Investigations Bureau forensic experts took samples from Gicumbi, they have not shared the findings.

“I am told that Nzabazumutima was first rearrested and detained at Kicukiro police station then later transferred to Nyarugenge prison in Mageragere,” Mukarukundo told Taarifa in an exclusive interview as a follow up on this prolonged journey aimed at seeking justice.

“I trust the institutions but it is taking too long and I was told to keep waiting,” Mukarukundo told Taarifa, adding that currently she is at home preparing for her sister’s wedding scheduled for September 2020.

Cycling Coach Re-arrested Over 2016 Sexual Abuse Case

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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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