Father Jean Bosco Gakirage has not yet wept, as Jesus did before being betrayed by his confidants.
Rather, he is pushing hard until he finds a solution to a problem that is tempting his faith.
On February 28, Taarifa reported about a feud between the clergyman and a retired Major, one Jean Marie Vianny Kamarade and his wife Immy Numutako (see story at the bottom).
The three partners had entred into a mutual agreement to jointly run an eye hospital in Musha village of Rwamagana District.
As narrated by the priest, it all began when the priest signed an agreement with the couple to help him register and run a hospital he had built from donations collected from his friends he had worked with in the congregation in Italy and the Americas as a Comboni missionary.
As we reported, the hospital ran for some years before it was “eaten” by the couple resulting into a nasty relationship with the priest and eventually halting hospital operations.
Kamarade and his wife had turned the hospital, which was treating thousands of poor Rwandans, into their source of income to splurge on, consequently triggering anger from the clergyman’s wellwishers.
The priest sought intervention from various authorities, but his plea did not yield positive results until today.
The hospital is temporarily out of service and the standoff is live and bitter.
On July 25, 2015, Father Gakirage decided to write to President Paul Kagame, seeking his intervention.
Taarifa has seen a copy of the letter.
The priest narrated to the president in the letter how the whole ordeal began and what kind of help he exactly wanted from the president.
“The hospital has an obstacle that will cause it to close completely,” he wrote in the letter, after introducing himself and giving background of how and why he began the benovelent eye hospital.
“You are the only one who can rescue eye patients so that the hospital does not close because of two Rwandans who are seeking personal gains,” the letter written in Kinyarwanda reads.
By the time Father Gakirage wrote the letter, the hospital which began operations in 2011, had treated 4000 patients and operated over 300.
He told Taarifa that by the time he wrote the letter, the Kamarades had swindled over Rwf50million. He put it in the letter too.
His four-page letter was received and stamped by the office of the president.
According to him, the letter was sent to the chief of intelligence for handling.
Rtd. Gen. Karenzi Karake was then the head of intelligence.
The chief of intelligence met with both parties.
The meeting was followed by his team investigating the case.
A private firm was later hired to conduct an audit to asses and establish the substance of the matter in legal terms.
Indeed, as the audit report indicates, there was gross mismanagement of the facility, mulpractices and embezzlement of funds.
On the legality of ownership, documents indicated that the Kamarades were indeed registered shareholders, but there was no proof of payment or contributions to individual shareholding equity.
The priest says the couple convinced him that it was necessary for them to be allocated shares to allow them legal authority to run the hospital.
The Kamarades swore before a legal officer at Rwanda Development Board that this was purely a formality and not meant to serve personal gains.
They al agreed that this was to provide basis for the priest to continue receiving support from his wellwishers, considering the fact that the catholic church doctrine prohibits priests from running any profit oriented project.
In the letter to the President, Father Gakirage explicitly says the hospital was built to serve less privileged Rwandans with eye problems and not to make financial gains.
Unfortunately, he wrote, the Kamarades have since hijacked the hospital, turned it into a profiteering project, pocketed the money, claiming to be shareholders and thus entitled for dividends.
“Medical staff have not been paid and patients with medical insurance cannot receive treatment,” the letter further explains.
Due to the standoff, all hospital bank accounts have been frozen.
The priest has to seek financial help for upkeep from the same friends: the ASSOCIAZIONE GIEMME- Onlus, headed by Dr. Sergio Scortegagna in Italy.
At one point, the Kamarades contacted Father Gakirage’s financiers.
Madam Kamarade wrote to them in a four page document laying out an operational plan and asking for a long list of medical equipment and explaining why the hospital has to run as a profit making project and justify how the funds would be reinvested.
The Italian Doctor, Scortegagna, was furious and fired back, demanding that the couple stops running the hospital as a commercial project.
“If the donations are not used for humanitarian purposes…we reserve our right to indicate other beneficiaries who will respect the original intention of our donation,” said Dr. Scortegagna in a letter.
“Do we have to look for means other than the friendly negotiations we have used to no avail from 2010 up to now?” Dr. Scortegagna wrote to Madam Kamarade in 2015, responding to her long letter explaining how they wanted to commercialise the hospital.
Too little too late, the Kamarades had already depleted the hospital.
The clergymen had been conned.
Millions of francs had already been withdrawn from the accounts and spent on personal matters, as indicated in the audit report.
Father Gakirage told Taarifa that the couple was splurging on a savvy lifestyle and paying hefty fees for their children who are studying in USA.
“They want to grab the hospital from me,” he says. The facility seats on a massive land of over 21,000 square meters, part of Father Gakirage’s ancestral land.
In another agonizing attempt, the Kamarade filed a case against him and submitted to the Vatican.
They lost the case and were asked to stay away from the priest.
The Vatican was dismayed and prayed for him and advised him to be careful, because he was dealing with “dangerous” people.
But Father Gakirage has not yet sought God’s intervention, he wants President Kagame’s help first before he kneels down to invite Devine intervention.
“I believe our President will handle the matter, I trust him, and I have so much hope in him. He is a good man and he always stands on the side of the oppressed,” he says, as he cites a prayer before taking a sip from a cup of coffee.
Aked why he did not follow up with Rtd. Gen. Karake, he says the officer had been assigned other duties and “told me his successor would follow it up.”
Other authorities are asking him to settle the matter in court or offer a walk-out package, estimated to be over Rwf100million, a suggestion that is principally against the church’s doctrine.
Kamarade and his wife cannot comment on the matter.
They don’t pick phone calls nor respond to text messages, despite having promised to meet to talk to us about the case.
The clergyman says he has received threats on his life and has also heard stories of blackmail being propagated to destroy his credibility.