Bickering over donor funds ripping Saint Famille apart

 Read in The New Times..

Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department

are investigating claims that a senior priest at

Saint Famille Catholic Church in Kigali allegedly

diverted money meant for

widows of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

A source from police told this newspaper yesterday

that Gratia Mukantagara, a former employee

of Saint Famille reported the priest, Remy Mvuyekure,

to CID on June 30.

According to Mukantagara, the money Rwf 8m

had been sent in her names to help members

of Swolodi, a local widows' project

operating under the church.

The money, according to documents seen

by The NewTimes came from Solwadi,

the major benefactor in Germany in 2007.

But the beneficiaries claim the way

the money was spent is questionable.

"There is nothing on the ground to show

that money was spent.

We need accountability,"

one of the beneficiaries who declined

to be named said on Monday.

Documents available indicate that money

was sent to help widows start

income generating projects.

According to Mukantagara, she learnt that

the money had come in 2007 after

the benefactors wrote to her

demanding accountability.

When she confronted Father Mvuyekure,

he reportedly admitted having received

the money but argued that it was meant

for the church not Mukantagara

as an individual.

According to Mukantagara, when she insisted

to know how the money was spent,

Father Mvuyekure reportedly fired her.

Sacked for doing a good job?

"I was sacked for doing a good job.

The money belonged to the widows but

the priest hijacked it.

We need justice," Mukantagara said.

The NewTimes has learnt that Mukantagara

appeared to CID offices on Wednesday last week

to substantiate her claims.

According to the source, after tendering in

documents indicting that the money

was sent in her names

to help the vulnerable, police reportedly

summoned the priest to respond to the claims.

When contacted yesterday,

Interpol Chief, Tony Kuramba confirmed

that CID was investigating the case

to find out to whom the money was sent.

"I asked the officers here to investigate and

get to the root cause of the matter.

Investigators' report is not yet out,

" Kuramba said by phone, adding

"we shall tell you what happened exactly.

"He said CID will also contact Solwodi officials

in Germany to find out who was supposed

to receive the money.

"We cannot at this stage say whether

the money belonged to Mukantagara or

to the church," Kuramba added.

Kuramba said he learnt about the case

because CID director, Christopher Bizimungu

was out of the country by the time

Mukantagara presented her case to police

and he had stood in for him.

Efforts to talk to Mvuyekure were futile as

his phone has been switched off

since Tuesday.

His Secretary said yesterday the priest

could no be reached for a comment

because he was in a retreat.

Documents seen by The NewTimes show that

in 2006, two members from Kindermission werk,

a charity organization

based in Germany visited Saint Famille.

The visitors included Judith Lamp and

Ndelheid Frohlich also members

of Kindermission werk.

While in Kigali, they were touched

by the plight of the widows and

needy children who needed to go to school.

Back to Germany, together with

Solwodi members, they mobilized

funds for the Kigali widows.

Documents obtained indicate

that the money was sent in 2007.

Other documents also show that

the benefactors wanted Mukantagara

to confirm whether

she received the money.

Kinder Missionwerk president

Bishop Pilz Winfried wrote in 2007,

saying accountability was highly necessary

if the beneficiaries needed more help.

But the rift between Father Mvuyekure

and Mukantagara took a new twist

when the former sacked her on June 18, 2007.

Mvuyekure said in the sacking letter that

she was fired for absconding from duty

without permission. 

Mukantagara wants the CID to investigate

the priest and explain where

he put the money.

Mvuyekure's alleged scam comes days

after leaders of Italia Solidale,

a local church-affiliated NGO

were dragged to court for allegedly

diverting money meant for orphans.

The leaders according to beneficiaries

pocketed about Rwf 3billion.

Italia Solidale had received funds from Italy

to help about 2000 orphans left vulnerable

by the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.

But the leaders of this NGO

instead reportedly put the money

to their own use.

             J-L K.
Procurement Consultant
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Gsm:    (250) (0) 75-079-9819 (Rwandatel)
Home:  (250) (0) 25-510-4140
    P.O. Box 3867
  Kigali - RWANDA
    East AFRICA
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