May 8, 1994: Killing of Tutsi orphans at SOS Center in Gikongoro

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May 8, 1994: Killing of Tutsi orphans at SOS Center in Gikongoro

Yanditswe May, 08 2020 11:21 AM
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The genocide against the Tutsi was characterized by supernatural cruelty considering the manner in which the Tutsi were killed, humiliated and dehumanized, considering how Tutsi were killed in hospitals, churches and many other places where they had taken refuge. The massacres went beyond words especially when orphans got killed by their caregivers at the SOS center disregarding the basic principles of the SOS founders.

How the SOS Gikongoro Center has become a hideout of killers

The SOS center at Gikongoro was run by Venuste NYOMBAYIRE from the former Byumba prefecture.  It sheltered some children who were being raised there including Tutsi children. On the night of May 7 to 8, 1994, selected Tutsi orphans were killed. Prior to that date, Venuste NYOMBAYIRE was the Deputy Director of the SOS Center in Gikongoro where he had been deployed by the Ministry of local government from Kigali Ngari Prefecture.

NYOMBAYIRE was brought to Gikongoro to cover for his allegations about his role in the Bugesera massacre where he worked as an official of the former “Ministère de l'intérieur et du développement communal”, during the March 1992 massacre of Tutsi. He was sent to SOS Gikongoro from “Ministère de l'intérieur et du développement communal” by MUNYANGABE Marcel who was the CEO of SOS at national level and was among prominent interahamwe in Kacyiru. 

As soon as he arrived in Gikongoro, NYOMBAYIRE did his best to discourage the former director of the center with the aim of replacing him. In order to reach the SOS top leadership position, Venuste NYOMBAYIRE harshly attacked the former SOS Gikongoro Director Marc YIRIRWAHANDI, who was a Tutsi until he was severely wounded with a grenade on April 8, 1994. Marc YIRIRWAHANDI decided to flee from Gikongoro to his home in Butare, Mbazi commune. He was wounded by NSENGUMUREMYI Alphonse, employee of ELECTROGAZ Gikongoro who was a serial killer, following the plot of NYOMBAYIRE. After Marc YIRIRWAHANDI escaped, Venuste NYOMBAYIRE took over as the Director of SOS, where he killed and saved whoever he wanted. 

Venuste NYOMBAYIRE became a member of the extremist group in Gikongoro composed of people from various establishments in Gikongoro Prefecture.  Members were mostly Bakiga from Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Byumba who started planning genocide. 

SOS Gikongoro had many spacious buildings in a quiet place, which they thought would be used to host genocide preparation meetings and other activities relating to the preparation of massacres.

The extremist group consisted of Prefect BUCYIBARUTA Laurent; sous prefect Froduald HAVUGIMANA; Colonel SIMBA Aloys; Bourgmestre of Nyamagabe Felicien SEMAKWAVU; NDEREYEHE Karoli NTAHONTUYE from Ruhengeri who was in charge of the agricultural development project in Gikongoro –PDAG, before his transfer in ISAR Rubona, currently living in the Netherlands. There were also, Celestin MUTABARUKA who headed the agricultural and livestock project in the borders of Crete Zaire Nile - CZN, now living in the UK; Captain Faustin SEBUHURA who was the Deputy Commander of the Gendarmery in Gikongoro, from Ruhengeri (died); Denis KAMODOKA who was in charge of the Kitabi Tea Factory, from Mutura Commune in Gisenyi, Juvenal NDABARINZE who was in charge of the Kitabi Tea Factory from Nkumba Commune in Ruhengeri; SEMIGABO Celse who was the Prosecutor at Gikongoro. 
Additionally, Justin AYURUGARI from Ruhengeri, who was in charge of ELECTROGAZ in Gikongoro; Fabien UWIMANA who was in charge of investigation, Innocent TANGISHAKA, worked at immigration (Immigration and Emigration); RURANGWA Joseph, ran the CPDFP training center were part of the extremist group too. 
Furthermore, Damien BINIGA, Joseph NTEGEYINTWALI and Joachim HATEGEKIMANA, the sous prefects of Munini, Karaba and Kaduha sous prefectures respectively, David KARANGWA who was the Registrar of Gikongoro court and others, were members to the group. 

The above mentioned gang planned how the Genocide was going to be carried out in Gikongoro Prefecture, and NYOMBAYIRE joined the group around 1992.

Killing of Tutsi orphans at SOS Center in Gikongoro

Most staff of SOS Gikongoro were Hutu and some few Tutsi were in the lower positions. On the night of May 7 to 8, 1994, NYOMBAYIRE Venuste brought Interahamwe attack in SOS and killed children in collaboration with KABARERE Venantie who was their teacher and has been convicted of genocide crime by Gacaca courts serving her sentence in Nyamagabe Prison. Venuste NYOMBAYIRE opened the room in which children were gathered and they immediately killed them. About ten (10) children were killed.
There were also around eight (8) children from Kigali, SOS Kacyiru, who were said to have fled the fighting and brought to Gikongoro SOS, six (6) of them were selected as Tutsi and were killed. These children had been selected by NYOMBAYIRE and were put in a separate classroom around May 6, 1994, and apparently he knew the plot to kill them in due time. 

On the evening of May 7, 1994, NYOMBAYIRE selected a 12-year-old girl among the orphans and handed her over to interahamwe called RUZINDANA to thank him for killing the children and gave him the right to rape her all night, and kill her the next day and that's what happened.

According to testimony from KABARERE Venantie, who was involved in the killing of those children, Ernestine, Hélène and Janson are some of the names of the victims she could remember. 

Assassination of Tutsi SOS staff

That night, after the killers had finished killing children, they also killed SOS Tutsi staff who were on duty. That night, a security guard called NYIRIMIRERA was killed, they also attacked his home and killed his wife and four children. Further, they killed a gardener called NTAGANDA Peter. The attackers included NDIRAMIYE Boniface, MBIGIZEMBISHAKA Jean, KANYAMANZA Damascène, Athanase, Marc and others.

Children and Tutsi staff killed by Interahamwe attack brought by Venuste NYOMBAYIRE consisted of: MUNYANGOGA who was a security guard at ELECTROGAZ Gikongoro, NSENGUMUREMYI Alphonse who also worked in ELECTROGAZ and one of Interahamwe leaders in Gikongoro, KANYAMANZA Jean Damascene, HABARUREMA Fidèle, KAKIRA Ildephonse and HABINEZA alias MAPENDU.  There were also RUSATSI Juvénal, Anastase alias RUHABANA, GASANA, son of NYAMWASA, NYAMUHENE Vianney, GASIMBA François son of NYARUGWE, NDAYISABA alias KINONKO, NAHAYO Elisée, RUBERAMANZI Innocent, UTAZIRUBANDA Emmanuel, BISHOKANKINDI, MUSABYIMANA alias BISABO, HASHAKIMANA, MUNGWARAREBA. 

Those militia interahamwe were brought from Gatyazo Business Center by NYOMBAYIRE and they were led by MUNYANGOGA Félicien.

The genocide against the Tutsi had a significant particularity which is observed through the actions of killing children, youth and women. The supernatural acts perpetrated against children were evidence to the Genocide's plan to exterminate Tutsi.

Done at Kigali on May 8, 2020


Dr BIZIMANA Jean Damascène
Executive Secretary
National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG)



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