22 February 2013

Uganda: Money Changer Killers Confess

One of the killers of Dickson Tinyinondi, 32, a prominent Ugandan money changer at the Uganda-Rwanda border post at Katuna, has confessed.

Tinyinondi, commonly known as Musiramu, was robbed, killed and, his body set alight in a car on Jan. 18 in Rutare sector, Gicumbi District, in the northern province of Rwanda.

Speaking to the press at Kicukiro Police station in Kigali recently, Jean Pierre Nzamurambaho, 20, a taxi driver who was a regular driver of Tinyinondi said that the deceased's assailants trailed him for several days. Nzamurambaho is one of the six suspects arrested so far. "Musiramu (Tinyinondi) had become one of my regular clients.

I could drive him from Gatuna border to Nyabugogo Taxi Park in Kigali to exchange money and I was among the master planner of his murder," Nzamurambaho confessed. Tinyinondi who was a regular traveler to Rwanda, often moving with large amounts of money, was found burnt in a car at Gasekye village, about one-and-a-half kilometers off the Gatuna border point.

Nzamurambaho revealed that on the day Tinyinondi was murdered, he drove him to Kigali where the deceased changed money before returning to the border.

Planned murder

Nzamurambo said that together with Fisto Mubirigi who is also a suspect but still on the run, they hired Cosma Nyakagarugu to use his car to follow Nzamurambaho and Tinyinondi. Those in Nyakagarugu's car were in touch with Nzamurambaho who was driving Tinyinondi.

When Tinyinondi and Nzamumbaho reached Gasekye village, Nzamurambaho signaled Nyakagarugu to overtake them. The plan was to overtake Nzamurambaho and Tinyinondi and intercept them so that the robbers take away the money Tinyinondi had changed from Kigali. They immediately overtook Nzamurambaho's car and intercepted them.

However, the money changer refused to get out of the car, and two of assailants entered into the car and forced him to give them the money. He gave them the money and they immediately drove him away.

Shaban Harelimana one of the suspects said that before Tinyinondi was killed, he requested the killers to take the money and spare his life. They instead hit him, poured petrol on the car and burnt it with him inside. This was in attempt to erase the evidence. Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Theos Badege, said that Police recovered over Rwf10million, more than UshsUshs3million and Euro 3,043 from the suspects.

Badege said that the recovered money will be given to the deceased's family. Two suspects are still in hiding but the police are hunting for them.

Another Ugandan money changer, Evariste Akandinda, commonly known as Jaguar, was killed about two years ago. Akandinda was killed by unknown assailants and his body was recovered in Rulindo district of the Northern Province of Rwanda after he had gone missing for three days. Money changers are targeted because they habitually carry big sums of cash.

Akandinda was allegedly carrying about Ushs280million which he wanted to convert into Euros, US dollars and Rwandan francs in Kigali. After the January killing, Ugandan money changers at Katuna, the busiest border point between Uganda and Rwanda, have resolved to start using the banking system to avoid being robbed and, in a recent case, being killed.

Samuel Mbabazi, the Chairman of Ugandan Money changers at Katuna border told The Independent that in order to stay safe when they travel to Kigali, Ugandan money changers have started using Rwandan banks at the border instead of carrying bags of cash with them which exposes them to risk. They use their Ugandan passports to open accounts in the Rwandan banks. He says over 80 money changers have started banking their money with Bank of Kigali (BK) and Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR), two Rwandan banks which have branches at the border.

After depositing the money on their accounts, the money changers travel to Kigali where they withdraw it and change it without risk of robbery and death.

Following the murder of Tinyinondi, which provoked uproar at the Ugandan side of the border with the Ugandan citizens blocking the road while threatening to revenge, Uganda's Inspector General of Police Lt. General Kale Kayihura and his Rwandan counterpart Emmanuel Gasana recently met in the Ugandan town of Kabale to seek solutions. After the meeting, Kayihura met the Ugandan money changers at the border and urged them to use the Rwandan banks in order to remain safe.

Kayihura also told money changers that during the meeting with his Rwandan counterpart, it was suggested that through Interpol, money changers who wish to change a lot of money would be escorted to and from Kigali.

Adrian Ndayambaje, another money changer at Katuna border says that Ugandan money changers normally change money in Kigali because it is not easy to get huge sums of international currencies such as US Dollars and Euro at the border.

They normally hire cars and drivers but it has since emerged that the drivers connive with robbers as in the case of Tinyinondi.

Ndayambaje urges Ugandan and Rwandan governments to come up with stringent measures aimed at maintaining security for money changers. Uganda's High Commissioner to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero says that Rwanda and Uganda enjoy warm ties which can help the sister countries deal with the insecurity threat against Ugandan money changers. Kabonero says the embassy plans to meet with Ugandan security officials at the border on the issue of security of money changers.

According to Kabonera, money changers have been avoiding banks because of associated banking charges. But he says that the embassy will collaborate with other concerned stakeholders to encourage money changers to develop the culture of using banks. James Kamushana, the Chairman of money changers in Rwanda who are organised in the Association of Forex Bureaus also urged Ugandan money changers at the border to stop travelling with large sums of money.

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