Dreadful grief was an understatement at the funeral service of the Rwandan journalist Charles Ingabire yesterday afternoon. It was more like the shroud on his death had descended on family members, friends and well-wishers bidding him final respects.
One by one, the mourners walked into Evangelical Restoration Church in Bakuli, many avoiding eye contacts with strangers and only speaking in hushed tones.
The funeral service that started about 2:30pm lasted for only about 20 minutes and had only two speakers.
First to speak was Pastor Shedrack Mporana, also a Rwandan, who described the day the editor of Rwanda’s Inyenyeri online news web site was shot as a sad one but urged mourners not to give into fear.
A second speaker, who only wanted to be identified as Pastor Yeremiya, also Rwandan, said many mourners wanted to pay their last respects to the deceased but they could not do so for security reasons.
“If you shoot someone dead, you are only killing the flesh not the spirit. We should not fear those who kill the flesh,” Pastor Yeremiya said.
No photos of identities
Several mourners we spoke to alleged being persecuted by government back home but none wanted their photographs taken or identities revealed.
Pastor Yeremiya, who had earlier moved around reminding the mourners to be weary of spies among them “intending to take information to their masters,” eventually let the cat out of the bag when he announced at the podium, “There is someone who has sent spies to spy on us.”
Among the mourners were men in civilian clothes, most of whom had security gadgets. The men could be seen communicating on walkie-talkies as the service went on.
Ingabire, 32, was shot twice in the lower abdomen late in the night of November 30, by unknown people in Makies II Bar at Bukesa-Kikoni near Makerere, a Kampala suburb.
Police found five cartridges of spent bullets, which they suspected to have been discharged by a Sub Machine Gun that was used to shoot Ingabire, at the scene of crime.
Police also said they have arrested two suspects now in their custody to help with investigations.
Ingabire had earlier fled Rwanda for Uganda for fear that his life was in danger for being critical of Rwanda president Paul Kagame and his government.
He was buried yesterday in a government cemetery at Lusaze in Rubaga Division, Kampala. He is survived with a wife and a five-month old baby.
No Rwandan government official attended the funeral or burial.