Rwanda: How Citizens Stopped Singer Kizito Mihigo From 'Illegally Crossing' Into Burundi

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(File photo).
15 February 2020

Singer and songwriter Kizito Mihigo was, Friday, confirmed to be in Rwanda Investigation Bureau's (RIB) custody.

RIB said the singer attempted to illegally cross the border into Burundi through bribing local residents in Southern Province.

The news of his arrest first made rounds on social media before the security organs finally confirmed it.

Eliab Nzisabira, an eyewitness and a wielder in Remera cell, Nyaruguru District, told The New Times that he saw the singer crossing a trading centre from where he was working on the evening of Thursday.

"It was around 7p.m in the evening when I saw Kizito Mihigo being taken away by two local residents of this area and I became curious to know what was going on," he narrated.

He then followed the two men whom he knew from the same local area to ask them what was going on.

"When I asked them what was happening, the security people who had been alerted had already arrived to pick up the musician," he says.

According to Nzisabira, the two citizens spotted and stopped Mihigo and later handed him over to authorities after allegedly turning down a Rwf300,000 bribe.

"At first, a vehicle dropped them in the near vicinity of the trading centre from where we operate. The area is about 10 minutes away to Burundi. When residents saw them, they stopped them and asked them where they were going," he said.

Nzisabira said the residents were suspicious when they saw the disgraced singer whom, upon being stopped, asked them to facilitate him cross into Burundi illegally.

"They first negotiated for Rwf200,000 up to Rwf300,000 until the citizens turned down the offer altogether," he said.

The plan

According to RIB, Kizito's plan was to join anti-Rwanda terror groups operating in neighbouring Burundi, a country accused of hosting many anti-Rwanda militias.

"Mihigo's criminal charges include attempt to illegally cross to Burundi, joining terrorist groups and corruption," RIB announced later.

The musician is no stranger to crime. He was convicted in 2015 after he pleaded guilty to crimes, including conspiracy to murder President Kagame and other top leaders of the country.

He was among more than 2,000 convicts who were released when President Kagame commuted their sentences in September 2018.

Mihigo had in February 2015 been convicted to 10 years in prison.

He had been convicted alongside his co-accused, Cassien Ntamuhanga, former director of a Christian radio station, who escaped prison while serving a 25-year term for terrorism and incitement charges.

According to RIB, Mihigo's attempt to escape constitutes a breach of conditions set in the Presidential Order Nº132/01 of 14/09/2018 exercising the Prerogative of Mercy, leading to the revocation of the Presidential Mercy.

If the singer pleads guilty to the charges, the mercy granted to him by the President could be revoked.

The law stipulates that, upon revocation of the grant of mercy, the grantee shall serve, in prison, the remaining part of the sentence, which shall be counted from the day the grant of mercy is revoked.

He had been released with six years to go.

RIB said investigations into charges were still underway after which his case file would be forwarded to the Prosecution for further management.

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