Enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE
“The Burundian authorities must shed light on the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE; they must also put an end to the mafia system of loansharking to soldiers in peacekeeping missions “.
According to information collected by FOCODE through the “NDONDEZA Campaign against the enforced disappearances in Burundi”, at least three people – Alexis NGABONZIZA (38 years old), Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA (29 years old) and Corporal-chef Jean NDAYIZEYE (36 years old) – disappeared on July 6, 2016 at around 2:30 pm, shortly after they indicated that they were at the Army Headquarters (EMG / FDN) where they had an appointment with an informant of National Intelligence Service (SNR), Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA.
This triple “dossier NDONDEZA” has an unusual characteristic. While all the previous cases seem to be linked to the crackdown on the protests against the third term in office of President Pierre Nkurunziza or have not been clarified in their motives, this one is related to a mafia system and economic interests. Alexis NGABONZIZA used to manage a sort of “Banque Lambert“ and lent money to Burundian soldiers that want to pay bribes so as to be added on lists of participants in peacekeeping missions in Somalia and the Central African Republic (AMISOM and MINUSCA). The role of Alexis NGABONZIZA was even more important. Not only did he lend to the soldiers but he also would also transfer that money to the high ranked military authorities involved in this mafia through their “principal commissioner” and could make sure his clients were on the lists of selected candidates. Alexis NGABONZIZA disappeared when he had an appointment with Lea NZEYIMANA, “the commissioner”, at Army Headquarters. He disappeared at the same time as his sibling Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA who had accompanied him. Corporal-chef Jean NDAYIZEYE, an agent of the Presidential Guard BSPI, and a friend of Mr. Alexis NGABONZIZA, had paid a bribe to return to Somalia. He also disappeared while responding to an appointment with Léa NZEYIMANA at the Army Headquarters.
This case finally reveals and denounces a massive system of financial exploitation of the Burundian soldiers in peacekeeping missions and the power of the circle of people involved in this Burundian mafia.
N.B: There were reports that two Burundian soldiers disappeared with the two siblings NGABONZIZA and HAVYARIMANA, but FOCODE could identify Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE only.
- Son of Didace NTIBIMENYA and Yuniya, Alexis NGABONZIZA was born in 1978 in the urban area of Kamenge, in Bujumbura. Married and father of five children, he was a businessman mainly working as a money lender at extremely high monthly interest rates (50%). Close and very attached to his family, Alexis NGABONZIZA funded in particular the schooling of his little brothers. According to his relatives, he was not involved in the activities of any political party. At the time of his enforced disappearance, his home address was 5th Avenue Gituro, Kamenge, in the north Bujumbura.
- Son of Didace NTIBIMENYA and of Monique SIBOMANA (a half-brother of Alexis NGABONZIZA), Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA was born in 1987 in Kirambi, Rusaka commune, in the province of Mwaro. Then a single, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA, a university student at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations at the Université Lumiere de Bujumbura, disappeared only three days before his wedding that was scheduled for July 10, 2016. Since high school he was a militant and active member of Mouvement pour la Solidarité et la Démocratie (MSD), an opposition party and was once threatened after the 2010 elections. At the time of his enforced disappearance, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA was still living with his half-brother Alexis NGABONZIZA and was about to move on the eve of his wedding.
- Son of Nestor NGAMARARE and Léonie NTIRORANYA, Jean NDAYIZEYE was born in 1980 in Kagoma, Vyanda commune, in Bururi Province. A soldier of the Burundian enlisted under the number 51298, Corporal-chef Jean NDAYIZEYE served as a secretary in the administration of the BSPI. Prior to his position to the BSPI, he was stationed for long to the Kayanza military camp and had already served in the African peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Married, Jean NDAYIZEYE was the father of a child of a few months. His home address is in town of Bururi Province in the south of Burundi.
- The enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Jean NDAYIZEYE was a terrible blow to their families. Alexis NGABONZIZA left behind him an unemployed woman and five children. The fiancée of Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA who is also a student gave birth a few months after he disappeared. Jean NDAYIZEYE disappeared while his wife was still in the Bururi Hospital right after the birth to their first child.
B.Facts on the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Caporal-chef Jean NDAYIZEYE.
- According to information collected from relatives of the victims, on July 6, 2016 at 2 o’clock pm, Alexis NGABONZIZA gave a phone call to another brother and asked him to come over the Army Headquarters where he was already with Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA. Immediately after the meeting at the EMG / FDN, the three brothers had planned some errands as part of the preparation for the wedding of Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA which was scheduled three days later. In the evening they were to hold the last meeting of a committee for the preparation of the marriage ceremonies. The same sources indicate that the third brother could not join them at the EMG / FDN because he was very busy in the preparations of Ferdinand’s wedding.
- At the EMG / FDN, Alexis NGABONZIZA had an appointment with Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA, a demobilized combatant from CNDD-FDD known as an informant of the SNR and a resident of the urban area of Kamenge. According to the information available to FOCODE, Léa NZEYIMANA is referred to as a “commissioner” for a “high ranked authority” within the Army Headquarters EMG / FDN responsible of receiving bribes from military personnel wishing to be sent in the peacekeeping missions either in The African Union in Somalia (AMISOM) or the United Nations in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Mr. Alexis NGABONZIZA role was to lend money to the soldiers and to act as intermediary by paying it directly to Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA. Alexis NGABONZIZA told his relatives that he had already paid Lea NZEYIMANA a sum of thirty million (30,000,000) Burundian francs and that he wanted to make sure that his clients were definitely on the list to go out the next day.
- On the same day at 2.30 pm (30 minutes after Alexis NGABONZINZA’s call), the younger brother tried to call his brothers in turn to discuss an urgent detail related to the preparation of Ferdinand’s marriage. Curiously, all the phones of the two brothers were off. It was as if the brothers who invited him to join them at the EMG / FDN thirty minutes earlier had just vanished in the space. He thought the batteries of their phones were dead and he waited to meet them in the evening meeting. In the evening they were not at the meeting of the committee for the wedding and during the night they made no sign of life. No one heard more about the two brothers.
- According to his relatives, Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE, who was on leave at his home in Bururi, received a phone call from Léa NZEYIMANA on the afternoon of July 5, 2016; he was asked to promptly bring his money in order to be added on the list of troops selected for the peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Jean NDAYIZEYE sought to return to Somalia only a few weeks after the end of his first participation in AMISOM. Early in the morning of 06 July 2016, Jean NDAYIZEYE traveled to Bujumbura; the last person to see him alive says he was in front of the EMG / FDN entrance at 14:30. The family tried to reach him by phone at 3:45 pm without success. From 9 pm his phone was off. Since then, the family has received no further news of Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE. The only information that the family had about the women who called Jean NDAYIZEYE the day before was that she was a “pregnant women named Clementine” whose role was to receive money payed for the participation in peacekeeping missions. As detailed in the paragraphs bellow, Léa NZEYIMANA was not arrested two days later because she was pregnant and she sometimes calls herself Clementine!
- The information gathered by FOCODE indicates a very strong link between Ms. Léa NZEYIMANA and the disappeared, in this case Mr. Alexis NGABONZIZA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE. According to relatives, Alexis NGABONZIZA had already paid Lea NZEYIMANA a sum of 30 million Burundian francs. These links are also confirmed by the frequency of calls and texts between them. During the day of July 6, 2016, Léa NZEYIMANA had 15 phone interactions with Alexis NGABONZIZA (13 calls and 2 texts), while the day before they had called each other 8 times. Likewise, Léa NZEYIMANA had regular and fruitful contacts with Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE. From July 1 to 06, 2016, there was at least one call per day between the “demobilized combatant ex-PMPA and the Caporal-Chef ex-FAB” of which the last started at 14:01 on July 6 and lasted 29 minutes.
- If everything seems to indicate a close link between Léa NZEYIMANA and the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZINZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE one day before the publication of a list of soldiers selected for the peacekeeping mission in Somalia, there is still no way to determine the motive of this triple enforced disappearance. Was it because the corresponding promise of the payed money was not kept? Was it to eliminate evidences of this gangster traffic for fear of possible leaks? Have the disappeared been victims of an insane plot of competing networks in the same traffic? According to relatives, Alexis NGABONZIZA had already escaped an attempt of assassination by refraining from personally going to a similar appointment with Léa NZEYIMANA. He apparently received information of a trap against him. A few days before his disappearance, Alexis NGABONZIZA reportedly received a warning from a friend at the SNR, who had warned him of an imminent danger: he was accused of “transferring funds for rebel movements trough his bank account “.
C.The Powerful Lea NZEYIMANA!
- Lea NZEYIMANA, aka “Clementine” or “Kirapanze” is a demobilized combatant from CNDD-FDD very feared in the northern neighborhood of the city of Bujumbura. Without a stable job, she is rather known as an informant of the SNR. “If you are denounced by Lea, there is very little chance of escaping death,” said two employees of the Burundian intelligence who discreetly spoke to FOCODE. “Léa NZEYIMANA has already been pointed out by NDONDEZA Campaign, in the enforced disappearance of three ex-FAB soldiers in May 2016 namely Adjudant Philibert NDUWAMUNGU, Adjudant-major Emmanuel NAHAYO and Caporal NDEREYIMANA.
- On the day after their enforced disappearance, the family of Alexis NGABONZIZA and Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA filed a petition to the Judicial Police (JP) aiming at searching them. Unlike the previous cases, the Judicial Police was particularly committed on this case before being completely jammed by the office of the Prosecutor in Bujumbura. According to the relatives of the disappeared victims, the investigations of the JP particularly focused on the last phone contacts of Alexis NGABONZIZA. Surprisingly, only one day after the disappearance of the two brothers, the phone number that has been calling Alexis NGABONZIZA was no longer reachable! The number was +257 61 434 559. This number will only be identified after another person who was in phone contact with NGABONZIZA shortly before his disappearance was arrested. The suspect was identified as a driver of the EMG / FDN nicknamed “Wa Rumonge”. The spontaneous cooperation of the suspect helped in the identification of the owner of the number that turned out to be Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA aka “Clémentine”, aka “Kirapanze”. The search of Lea’s home allowed the JP to discover seven (7) SIM cards, including the one with the number +257 61 434 559 as well as the receipts of Alexis NGABONZIZA money deposits on the account of Léa NZEYIMANA. The JP tried to arrest Lea but the Office of the Prosecutor raised the issue of her pregnancy to oppose it. Months later, after the birth of the child, a senior officer of the JP again pledged to arrest and prosecute Ms. Léa NZEYIMANA but he received a formal prohibition through a phone call from the Prosecutor. Since then, all the actions have faded and no one is being prosecuted for the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE. A close relative of the disappeared who attended an interrogation session testified that in all her arrogance, Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA shouted to the OPJ that was investigating her case: “try your chances as you want but you have no power to arrest me … I warned you! “
- The family of Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE lives in fear and has not even tried to sue the perpetrators of his enforced disappearance. The name of the Corporal-Chef is not in the file at the JP as well as that of a second soldier who disappeared the same day but that FOCODE could not find identify.
- The power of Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA comes for sure from the assurance of impunity of the crimes in which she is involved. She was never prosecuted for the enforced disappearance of the three soldiers abducted in May 2016. Likewise, the attempt by the JP to prosecute her after the enforced disappearance of the three victims of 6 July 2016 was also doomed to failure. This power comes also from her links with the secret services because she works with security officials involved in the bloody crackdown on opponents of the third term of Pierre NKURUNZIZA. Finally, her power is revealed by the easiness with which she enters the EMG / FDN services. To enjoy impunity, she must be covered by a strong hand and to have influence in making lists of participants in peacekeeping missions, she must be part of a powerful group operating inside the EMG / FDN.
D. “Kumena amaso” practices of a mafia rooted in the Burundian army!
- The investigation into the enforced disappearance of brothers Alexis NGABONZIZA and Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA as well as Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE revealed the existence within the Burundian army of a system of financial exploitation of the soldiers participating in the Peacekeeping missions on behalf of the United Nations in the Central African Republic or the African Union in Somalia. In fact, Alexis NGABONZIZA reportedly paid 30 million to Lea NZEYIMANA the “Commissionaire” and on 06 July 2016 he was at the EMG / FDN to check if his clients were retained for the next mission in Somalia. Similarly, Corporal-chef Jean NDAYIZEYE was at EMG / FDN on July 6, 2016 at the invitation of Léa NZEYIMANA to pay his “commission” because he wanted to return quickly to Somalia! The process of acquiring loans at exaggerated rates by soldiers in order to pay the “commission” to participate in peacekeeping missions is called “Kumena amaso” or ”put out the eyes”. According to testimonies obtained from the military of all categories (officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers) this system of financial exploitation is well known to all military personnel. It is coordinated within the EMG / FDN and has representations in all military regions. The system has a secret and a formal component. It is strengthened by the opacity that prevails in the designation of military personnel participating in peacekeeping missions and the delay in the payment of payments to military personnel participating in the missions.
- According to the testimonies obtained, a soldier can pay between one million (1,000,000) and five million (5,000,000) Burundian Francs to be on the list of participants in peacekeeping missions. These payments go through “sub-commissionaires“, usually corporals close to the military administration, located in different military regions. Since it is often difficult to collect such a sum at a time, the soldiers seek money lenders, civil or military, who charge them exorbitant monthly interest rates, ie 50% per month or ask for the sharing of monthly allowances once deployed in the mission. Some soldiers told FOCODE that for one million borrowed they repay three million or that out of seven months paid, four month allowances are returned to the lenders of money! As in the case of Mr. Alexis NGABONZIZA, the money lenders also become intermediaries between the military and the representatives of high authorities of the army.
- All the testimonies obtained converge on the name of an officer who reportedly coordinates this mafia system: Major Grégoire RIVUZIMANA aka “Kassy Manlan”, officially holding the position of G1-deputy to the EMG / FDN and unofficially acting as special Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of Staff at EMG /FDN, the Lieutenant-General Prime NIYONGABO. In his official position as G1-deputy, Major Grégoire RIVUZIMANA manages the human resources department of the Burundian army. Informally, the Chief of Staff at EMG / FDN appointed him his henchman and his Aide-de-camp that prepares and accompanies him in his various business trips. Moreover, Major Grégoire RIVUZIMANA is in charge of all matters relating to the participation in peacekeeping missions. All the soldiers interviewed were unanimous: “the commissionaires are the under command of Major Grégoire RIVUZIMANA”. The big question is therefore whether the Chief of Staff is aware and personally linked to this illegal trafficking!
- The official part of the financial exploitation of the military involves cash advance on the AMISOM or MINUSCA payments granted as credits by CECAD. Members of the military testified that during their harsh training prior to deployment to AMISOM or MINUSCA, they run out of food and had to take loans to buy some. The military personnel believe that the lack of food in that period of hardship was deliberately organized to push them to take the loans. It is at this point that they become vulnerable to money lenders applying excessive rates. Others sought cash advance on the AMISOM or MINUSCA payments from CECAD. Despite the fact that CECAD applies a normal interest rate to them, they complain that CECAD cheat on military salaries when the AMISOM and MINUSCA payments are delayed, which is usually the case. Thus, upon return to Burundi, the military find completely impoverished families (sometimes marriages are dislocated) since the CECAD takes the money that had to continue supporting them. In many cases, the military borrowed money from the money lenders to pay the bribes so as to be on the lists of participants in the peacekeeping missions and from the CECAD to obtain cash advance on future UN or AU allowances. Upon their return after the mission, they find themselves over-indebted to money lenders, their bank accounts emptied by CECAD and families completely indigent. The first illusion has turned into a nightmare for many Burundian military returning from peacekeeping missions. Thus, a small group of soldiers of all categories grows disproportionately rich to the detriment of a majority exploited and left behind.
- With the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE, that new mafia within the Burundian army has reached another level. Not only does it exploit the military and hijacks the judicial system, but more important it kills by taking advantage of the criminal machinery already in place.
- Thus, this is an opportunity to recall the consequences of the participation of Burundi in peacekeeping missions, in a context of repression and serious violation of human rights. Those who bring peace elsewhere no longer have it at home. Those who protect others are not themselves protected. The partners of Burundi who employ the military in peacekeeping missions should ensure good working conditions and prevent peacekeeping missions from becoming a tool of repression against the Burundian people.
E. Position and recommendations.
- The FOCODE requests the arrest and trial of Mrs. Léa NZEYIMANA, the informant of the SNR, and all her accomplices in the enforced disappearance of Mr. Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE;
- FOCODE holds the Burundian authorities and especially those of the EMG / FDN responsible for their complicit silence and their inaction after the enforced disappearance of Alexis NGABONZIZA, Ferdinand HAVYARIMANA and Corporal-Chef Jean NDAYIZEYE (an agent of the Presidential Guard) in front of the EMG / FDN on 06 July 2016;
- FOCODE condemns the mafia system of financial exploitation of Burundian military personnel participating in peacekeeping missions and requests an investigation of the partners of Burundi who finance these missions to save our soldiers;
- FOCODE reiterates its full support for the International Commission of Inquiry on Burundi set up by the Human Rights Council on 30 September 2016 and calls that it may be endowed with all means (human, material, Financial and security) necessary for the accomplishment of its mission;
- FOCODE calls on the International Criminal Court to open without delay investigations into crimes under its jurisdiction in Burundi and to initiate proceedings against their perpetrators.
- FOCODE calls on the UN Security Council to assume its responsibility to protect (R2P) the Burundian people at risk and to rapidly create the conditions for the effective implementation of its resolution 2303.
On behalf of FOCODE,
Visit #NDONDEZA on : www.ndondeza.org
Support #NDONDEZA via : http://ndondeza.org/index.php/don/
 EMG/FDN : Etat-Major Général de la Force de Défense Nationale
 In Burundi, the term “Banque Lambert” refers to individuals who lend money with exaggerated interest rates that usually go up to 50% per month, as it is in this case.
 BSPI : Brigade Spéciale de Protection des Institutions
 “Kumena amaso” means literally “put out the eyes”.
 CECAD : Coopérative d’Epargne et de Crédit pour l’Auto-Développement, the Military Microfinance Institution in Burundi.