BY: MAJOR MICHAEL MUPENDE
I am a survivor of three Major assassination attempts by the Kagame system for always standing for the truth, my criticism and speaking out against evil!
On the 9th of October, 1990, I was seriously injured when we attacked Gabiro Garrison into the Akagera National Park.
I led one of the two vanguard companies in the first ever RPA offensive against the FAR. In the Garrison FAR was supported by Zairean special forces (Presidential guards from the 5th DIV), the French troops and about 3000 active Barundi recruits.
After a daylong fight our forces were overwhelmed by the enemy due shortage of ammunition and the heavy casualties from the fighting that had began at dawn of day. Friendly forces retreated at dusk and left me at battle field with two soldiers; Alex Kimenyi and Patrick Ruraza. Ruraza, shortly left us in search for water to drink, and never came back.
Later at around 2200hrs, Kimenyi also asked to leave and try to re-locate to the temporary tactical headquarter or get a trace of the retreating soldiers for help.
When Kimenyi left me, I spent the remainder of the night fending off hyenas from devouring me alive. I had been hit by two machine gun bullets in the pelvic area and had bled almost to the last pint.
Isaac Rukundo led the 1st Company and the 3rd Company was under my command. We had with us Lt. Jacob Tumwine, the I.O of 4th BN and George Rwigamba who led the reconnaissance platoon.
When Kimenyi located the tactical headquarters, Ndugute who was our axis commander dispatched a search team composed of 11 commissioned officers and a number of soldiers including Kimenyi to come for my rescue. I was located at around 0530hrs a few minutes to dawn and evacuated back to tactical headquarter into the National park. However, one of the bullets had lodged next to one of my nerves which caused me constant excruciating pain.
In June, 1991 in the Gahinga range of the Virunga mountains; I sent a radio message to Kagame (PC), Ndugute (2 I/c OOC), Charles Musitu (GAO) and Dr. Joseph Karemera (H/Med)
In the message I pointed out the unfortunate issue regarding my health condition. I had been purposefully neglected yet I had a foreign body (a bullet) in my body. I was expressing the pain that I was going through because of the location of the bullet in my body. Therefore, I demanded to be considered for treatment that I had been purposefully refused.
The next day in response, Paul Kagame replied to my message, instructing Dr. Karemera to do the necessary and allow me access treatment of which I had been denied. I was first sent for X-ray in Mbarara hospital for the first time in June,1991 since my injury in October, 1990 (8 months into the war).
I brought the X-ray back to the RPA operation headquarters in Karengere for Karemera and Kagame to prove that I really needed medical care.
They were embarrassed to see the position of the bullet in my body & the X-ray they were forced to let me do, prompted by the alarming message I had sent in addition to the issue of my speaking out regarding the first RPA promotions where Kagame had promoted his royals which marked the beginning of the creation and strengthening of his clique.
My radio message which was read by all recipients made Kagame angry. I had earlier on, in just a month’s time, forced him to promote the officers that he had left out ,the seasoned and battle hardened officers from NRA, creating his new perpetual clique of officers that was to be used against the rest of us in order to entrench his dictatorship.
In response to my message demanding medical treatment, removal of one of the bullets that had lodged in my pelvis in battle of 9th October 1990, which treatment I had been purposefully denied for my speaking against the deaths of Rwigyema, Baingana, and Bunyenyezi in the first place.
All senior commanders with whom I used to discuss Rwigyema’s death, were killed during the struggle with the exception of myself. Examples are the fierce fighter, Late Sam Byaruhanga and Vedaste Kayitare. The then head of RPA intelligence, Kayumba Nyamwasa used a one Lt. Mustafa to kill Sam Byaruhanga. Captain Sam Byaruhanga had been busy in operations that gave RPA a foothold (call it a nucleus) on Rwandan soil for the first time, since our defeat and humiliation by the FAR in the Akagera National Park and Umutara region. Sam Byaruhanga had just managed to capture one cellule called Gishuro of secteur Shonga. Capturing that single cell was one of the greatest achievements RPA had made so far and it was all because of Sam Byaruhanga’s leadership.
The land stretched between cells, Tabagwe and Gikoba of Secteur Shonga. This is what was to become the nucleus and marked the beginning of the expansion of RPA’s controlled territory that led to capture of the whole country by RPF/A in 1994.
Another key figure assassinated was Captain Vadeste Kayitare who was feared by Kagame for a possible revenge move for Kagame’s assassination of Rwigema anytime. Kagame had been paranoid about Kayitare all the time. Kayitare an excellent fighter, was a pillar of RPA just like Sam Byaruhanga. Captain Kayitare was involved in every major offensive that RPA conducted, including the first Gabiro skirmishes from October 12th 1990, till RPA lost Gabiro. Col Ndugute and Captain Kayitare put up resistance in Akagera Park till the end of November 1990. Kayitare also took part in the attack on Rwempasha on December 23th 1990 attack and on to the January 23rd 1991 Ruhengeri attack that released prisoners and many more.
I was very close to both Sam Byaruhanga and Kayitare so much so that I knew what each of the two officers thought about Kagame and the death of Rwigyema and we talked about it every time we met.
All that above; was too much of exposing the early workings of Kagame’s emerging reign of terror in a lawless organization. This led to Paul Kagame and goons decide that I deserved elimination. From that moment the decision was made onwards, I was categorized as a subversive element. My resentment of people who were involved in the death of Rwigyema and comrades, my exposure of the early nepotism and cronyism and my association with the likes of the Byaruhanga and Kayitare, was the earliest exposure of Kagame’s terror which had already began at a time we controlled one cellule ( village).
Kayumba Nyamwasa who was heading intelligence was given an assignment to eliminate me. This was only about two weeks after they had eliminated S.O MHC Sam Byaruhanga. They had just assassinated him from the same spot where, now they also planned to end my life. In the mission to assassinate me, Nyamwasa acted in the same drama as in the assassination of Sam Byaruhanga.
THE SET UP
Dr. Karemera was authorized by Kagame to clear me to proceed for treatment in Kampala, where I had to meet Dr. E. Rwamasirabo and Dr. Murego who both had different roles to play towards my treatment according to their fields of study, according to my injuries. Dr. Karemera wrote and signed a referral letter to Dr. Rwamasirabo and a copy to Dr. Murego and also sent a radio message to inform all the concerned in reference to my message. The purpose, as it later turned out, was to cool down any damage my radio message may have caused to the whole of RPA rank and file, it was a trick to show everybody that they were attending to the long-standing issues like my own but most importantly; it was false comfort accorded to me, to soothe me ,get me slip into their trap without a hint.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT #1
In July, 1991, Nyamwasa in the middle of the execution of the plan, came at the busing point(Bishop’s Building) at Karengere as he always did whenever he had to deliver their perceived enemies to their system to be eliminated. He had been seen doing the same on several occasions and people got killed. Nyamwasa collaborated with Alex Ibambasi who had come for a briefing in Rugano as he was coordinating supplies in Mbarara. Nyamwasa came at the Bishops house after he had deployed the killers to act as they were escorting the vehicle to Mbarara. At the building, Nyamwasa asked me why I had insisted on going for treatment that made a lot of noise in RPA ranks and he said that he was advising me to reconsider my decision to move to go for treatment in Kampala. In response and ridicule, I asked Nyamwasa what he exactly meant by his statement. In an anguished tone and a mean gesture, he murmured that, it is all he wanted to communicate to me, and nothing else.
I referred him to all the message exchanges and the authorizing paperwork from the head medical, Karemera but Nyamwasa’s words was; “I told you what I know was the right thing to do, “if you go ahead and travel” ,”you will be responsible for the consequences”. Later, a one Alex Ibambasi with DMI killers in company, arrived at where Nyamwasa was waiting for them. He first took Alex aside for a private talk before we departed from Bishop’s Building. Alex had been briefed by Dr. Karemera as I was to use the same vehicle to travel with him back to Mbarara, Kamukuzi and to facilitate me continue to Kampala for treatment.
When we reached in Rubanda, Kabale an area approximately 15 -20 miles to Kabale town with a dense vegetation of thick Flora and Bambo forest, Ibambasi ordered the driver to stop the Land rover Jeep, as the soon as the Jeep stopped, my escorts whom I had alerted earlier, swiftly jumped out before Alex Ibambasi hit the door and were ready with their weapons. As he stepped out, Ibambasi asked me one question, however, before I answered his question, I got out of the jeep on high ready (with my loaded pistol at my chest ready to go), then I asked Alex to go ahead with his question. Ibambasi was still dead on his feet without saying a word and the 3 DMI operatives did not know what to do next with me and my 2 escorts controlling the whole plan. My alertness had been sparked by the way Nyamwasa had talked to me and when I later saw him whisper to Ibambasi in privacy. I had therefore also alerted my escorts before we boarded the jeep. I proceeded to order the 3 soldiers to stay on the Jeep and warned them to watch out for any reckless move as it would result into their demise, in just a twinkle of an eye.
While still in this stand off, suddenly, a military Land rover Jeep that was carrying S.O Gashumba and Comdr. Gadaffi Kazintwali showed up at the vicinity. It was the only vehicle moving at that time of the night; around 0340hrs. Their coming in view saved the whole situation. Alex was relieved from the unknown because I was determined not to give any body a chance of taking my life. Gashumba asked what was going on, I immediately told him about my treatment and showed him all the referral paperwork from Karemera; he acknowledged my travel referring to a recent message because it had been copied to all RPA units. When asked about what was going on, Alex Ibambasi had no words when he was asked why he had to stop in middle of the thick Rugano forest. Alex did not answer anything. When asked if he had an issue to continue travel with me up to Mbarara, he said it was okay . We left Rubanda towards Kabale at around 0430 hrs and by 0530 hrs, we were in Mbarara.
While in Mbarara, I asked Lambert Sano to let me know why I was not proceeding to Kampala for treatment, he told me as they were waiting for the communication from Dr. Rwamasirabo. In about an hour of my arrival the I.S (DMI) staff (Franco Rutagengwa alias Mapuwa)came to tell me of a message that required me to immediately take myself to jail, (store rooms in Mbarara – Kamukuzi, that were used as jail rooms). In the next few minutes, I was told by a one late Emmanuel Bihaiga who was a signaller, that Ibambasi had sent a very long message detailing how I attacked him on the way from Rugano, the message that I never had a chance to read. And in turn, Kagame ordered for my arrest.
The little boy who was there as an I.S but for recovery purposes from T.B, Franco alias Mapuwa, delivers a message that had come from mwenyewe (the great/supreme) meaning Kagame; that I should be arrested. I went to ask Alex Ibambasi what was going on, but he said that he saw the message too and added that; if I considered myself a member of RPA, I had to obey the contents of the message. So, I took myself to the jail room and I was there for a week. Upon release, instead of proceeding for treatment in Kampala, I was sent to Nakivale where I found Dr. Nsenga who assured me that the issue was clear and something was being done about my treatment. He told me to stay and wait on Dr Murego and Rwamasirabo.
A month into my waiting, I was sent back to the frontline to wait from there, as per directives from above. I went back for the so called ‘light deployments’ I waited for further treatment. I had to endure the pain and go through those same games until July of 1997 (7 years),when I was operated on by Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira and Dr. Rwamasirabo at CHK I had the bullet removed from my body and was relieved of my pain in the subsequent years.
After I had pointed out that I and many other officers had been side-lined in everything because we spoke and we were unrestful about the truth regarding the death of Gen. Fred. Rwigyema, everybody was either killed, had his professional career sabotaged by withholding promotions, harassed, or not treated when we got injured from war, etc.
My testimony above where I was purposefully neglected with a machine bullet in the pelvic joint, rubbing on my nerve & withholding my promotions through RPA ranks, attempts on my life are enough testimony of how those who had known the truth about Gen Fred Rwigyema’s death. I was never trusted with regard to anything in the whole service & I know I speak for many, both the living and the dead. Therefore, in July, 1995, I was appointed a director of the new Rwanda Police training centre as a Director/Commandant. Vice President Kagame squandered funds and other resources meant for the police academy and I could never keep quiet, so I asked for accountability. I was fired from the job; accused of collaborating with the UNAMIR/CIVPOL staff with whom I was collaborating to design a training program for the new Rwandan Police Force;
a) That I was feeding them with the information regarding Hutu assassinations.
b) I befriended a Hutu woman, and that, at the worst I exhumed the remains of her father to give him a decent burial; the father of this lady had been killed by Kagame’s guards in the clean up exercise conducted from Musha to Kabuga under the command of Lt. Col James Kabarebe in the area.
Therefore, unquestionably, I was an enemy # 1 to the state. That was my new tittle “enemy of the state” I bore and maintained the title since 1995 up to date.
Around December of 1995, after Kagame had ordered my sucking from the position of the police training director, I was left to remain hanging; only for spies to monitor me every time. It was time for police training to commence officially, and the then Vice-President Paul Kagame came at Rwanda training centre in Gishari, Rwamagana to officiate the ceremony. Demonstrating my disapproval of the Regime’s unbecoming Modus operandi and conduct, I decided not to show up at the opening ceremony at the police training centre which was some few meters away from where I resided. And this angered Kagame and his cronies even more.
I was later transferred to Gako training wing where the first welcome meeting was to show all RPA soldiers that, I was a criminal. John Baptist Ngiruwonsanga who was the camp Commandant, had been briefed to hold a meeting on my arrival and brief soldiers that I was a criminal. when Ngiruwonsanga was asked by soldiers on the statement, he insisted that I also knew what I had done to qualify the title “criminal”. What followed was to use the same Ngiruwonsanga a coward of all cowards; to plot and executed my assassination.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT #2
Ngiruwonsanga being directed by Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Nyamvumba under Kagame’s orders. Operations were followed and coordinated by Dan Munyuza who laid an ambush for me at Juru, in commune Gashora. However, Sergeant Isoke who had been the I.O of the training but at the time stationed at the DMI headquarters in Kigali tipped me off of the plot ahead of time and I used a different route; Gashora- through Nyamata to Kigali, which was pretty the main route through the whole of Bugesera area from Kigali. I never saw that soldier (Sergeant Isoke) again, he disappeared until this day…..!!!! That was around August 1996.
Due to the failed ambush; from then onwards, they directed the commandant that I have to leave Gako camp on the permission from the army headquarters unlike before, when I had to seek and get permission to leave the camp from the commandant.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT #3
The next plan took five month to hatch and came around March of 1997, I had asked for permission to go and check on my sick mother, they delayed the permission just to be able to make a precise plan of my elimination. Both my parents were old and frail, me being the only son they had remained with, most of my brothers lost their lives fighting in the war that got the same Kagame who wanted to kill me in power. The army headquarters kept quiet about my request for about two weeks; something that was reported as an emergency. When the day finally arrived, they had this time around spied and made sure that I passed through the route they had laid a trap that was supposed to end my life. They planned that, I had to deliver a security message to the Nyamata Burgomaster and I was to have some discussion with him before I proceeded on to my journey through Kigali to deliver to headquarters details of our meeting.
This was a set up, to go through the ambush site. The fact that; the previous ambush had failed, I was very suspicious of every step of the trend that things were going at this time. I first resisted the route and the fake assignment, I maintained that, this was a long route to use to go see my parents. They had held me for a long time yet here they were making my journey cumbersome, I reasoned. I insisted on the reason of the urgency of the travel. The commandant also insisted that if necessary, they will add me one more day for my pass-leave but asked me to cooperate and pass through Nyamata as had been requested.
That evening, I told the Nyamata Burgomaster that he should wait for my communication the next morning whether I was going to go by the plan presented to me or not. But my intelligence brought me vital information about what had been planned. This time, Dan Munyuza was using DMI and Gendarmerie from Nyamata to perform the task of ending my life and this fell to my ears which confirmed my earlier fears that the whole request to pass via Nyamata was a plot for my elimination.
That evening, In my mind, I made a decision, I was leaving since my permission had been granted from Kigali army headquarters; I had a copy of their message from the radio operator, hence I decided and left early and at this time I passed through Sake /Kibungo and took a long but safer route that was not expected in the killers minds. When I came back, I narrated the whole story to some friends in Kigali. I told someone from the army headquarters that I found out their plans and I would like to know why I had to be killed. The same person discussed the ordeal with many others within the RPA circles and later I was called by different officers most of them from DMI, all of them questioning why I was circulating rumours and why I was tarnishing the image of the government by stating that the government wanted to get rid of me.
I told everybody they were not rumours reality that I had evidence for, although I couldn’t tell them how I had l landed on that evidence. Following all those developments; in October of 1997 I got deployed to Gabiro from Gako- I will narrate about an explosive reason why I was sent to Katebe in August of 1998, and the penning of a ten paged later to the government in December, 1999, all in the next series.
While on Katebe, August 1998 to March 2000, the Kagame system deployed intelligence agents (call them hit men) from DMI to monitor my moves all the time, until I was sent to DRC in 2000. In DRC, they hoped to find it easy to do what had been a little hard for them in Rwanda. Their mission of assassinating me was only disrupted by these three following reasons:
1. The strength of the DRC allies; Zimbabwe and Angola who stopped all Kagame’s moves in the war to oust Desire Kabila again and install what would be Kagame/Kabarebe monarchy in Congo.
2. The Lusaka disengagement resolution which actually helped Kagame get relieved from the FARDC,FDLR/ALIR, FOCA, Zimbabwean, Angolan, and the Namibian battles he couldn’t otherwise have handled due to the cost and capability of almost every aspect of maintaining such a war that was unnecessary. And Lastly,
3.Uganda/Rwanda Kisangani clashes in the Congo.