During the ten days of massacres, the burgomaster Ntaganzwa and his men worked methodically, directing incoming Tutsi to Cyahinda while cutting the escape route to Burundi, enticing or coercing local Tutsi to gather in the church before slaughtering them, day after day, from 7 am to 5 pm. With that work completed, they moved on to destroy those clustered on the hilltops, all the while using patrols and barriers to intercept those who tried to escape. Ntaganzwas network functioned efficiently, collaborating with or eclipsing members of the regular administration depending on the extent of their acceptance of the genocide. He received important support from the outside: the National Police and later regular soldiers provided essential tactical knowledge and firepower; the interim president and the interim prime minister offered praise and encouragement; assailants from adjacent regions, some of them directed by their local officials, supplemented the attackers from Nyakizu itself and intercepted Tutsi who tried to leave Nyakizu; and national party leaders gave advice and directives over the radio and perhaps by other means as well.
Ntaganzwa used support from inside and outside Nyakizu to push into action many who doubted the need to kill. In the end, local leaders of the genocide mobilized a significant part of the total Hutu population to violate all the usual moral and legal rules. People who had never before taken a life learned to kill. Men who had coveted Tutsi women from a distance now raped them or forced them into cohabitation. Entire families who had lived in desperate poverty helped themselves to furniture and cooking pots, mattresses and clothes, windows and doors belonging to their neighbors. Those who rarely ate meat came home to feasts of looted cattle and goats.
At the very start of the genocide, Ntaganzwa violated the orders of his administrative superior, the prefect, who hoped to resist the killing. But as the interim government made clear by Habyalimanas removal, it was the prefect and not the burgomaster who was out of step with the program set by the new authorities. Just as the higher authorities removed the prefect, so Ntaganzwa purged dissenters from the communal council. By mid-May, authorities in Nyakizu were speaking with one voice and they were treating the elimination of the Tutsi as one more national goal to be met. They nearly succeeded.Restoring Normal Life
At the end of April, Ntaganzwa began the normalization ordered from above: the wholesale disruption of life in which all were called to kill was to giveway to a more tightly administered campaign of extermination. In early May, the burgomaster ordered markets reopened, so signaling that people were once more to rely on production rather than pillage for their needs.1 Not long after, some schools resumed sessions and officials made great efforts to get parents to send their children to classes. At the instruction of national authorities, the burgomaster ordered everyone who had firearms to register them. Local residents responded promptly, requesting the needed authorisation to keep their weapons. One person specified he needed the kalashnikov for his own protection and that of the population, while another indicated that he wanted to keep his pistol for use during patrols.2
The communal administration functioned, although some services could not be restored due to the death or flight of personnel (including the four Hutu ordered killed by the burgomaster). The burgomaster, councilors, and cell leaders all held meetings with the population to discuss security, each time stressing that they were transmitting orders from the national government. They ordinarily opened these meetings with the same ritualized explanations of the war, beginning with its origins.
The burgomaster was able to call on both National Police and communal police to keep order, but he used them in a very restrictive way. He directed them to arrest Hutu who harassed, pillaged, or killed other Hutu but did not order them to arrest Hutu who killed Tutsi. Rather he had them detain Hutu who protected Tutsi. The local judicial police inspector prepared cases against persons suggested by the burgomaster, particularly his political enemies. He seems to have investigated only one murder during this period, that of a Hutu, and he did not, apparently, investigate any of the killings of Tutsi. The administration continued the effort to keep track of the population, more difficult but even more important during the genocide. As groups of displaced persons arrived from the north in May and June fleeing the RPF advance, councilors prepared lists of the heads of household, the number of dependents for each, and their communes of origin. The burgomaster and his subordinates provided the documents necessary to traveloutside the commune and issued attestations of identity for people from Nyakizu and elsewhere who had lost their identity cards. The forms prepared for such use included the information that the bearer was Hutu; Tutsi apparently were not expected to apply for the papers necessary for their safe passage outside the commune.3
The burgomaster reported to his superiors about the progress of the genocide, but in a discreet way. He informed them of the names of Tutsi captured and when and where they were taken. He did not usually describe their fate, although he sometimes suggested it. In one letter, for example, Ntaganzwa wrote:
We arrived there very early in the morning. We arrested the whole group and took them to the commune, but the man named Mpakaniye was very difficult to get under control because he was armed with a spear.
Without further details, the burgomaster concluded by saying, The population is working to help the authorities safeguard security.4
In another letter, the burgomaster reported the arrest on May 17 of some Inkotanyi found with grenades in their possession and of two other young men, strangers to Nyakizu, caught walking through the commune at night on May 19. He said nothing about the disposition of their cases except through implication, closing with the reminder that the RPF intends to take Nyakizu by force.5
The Language of War
The massacres at the church and on the hilltops had been conducted like military operations: the large numbers of assailants, the participation of former soldiers, communal police, National Police, and later regular soldiers, the heavy weaponry and grenades, the use of military strategy, all this suggested combat. All that was missing was a real armed enemy. Playing upon these military trappingsand mimicking the language of the national leadership, Ntaganzwa spoke of the war that raged at Cyahinda and of the battle in which the refugeesmeaning the Tutsihad attacked Nyakizu along with the RPF. Ntaganzwa, like officials elsewhere and like authorities in prior years, tried to justify the killings by claiming that Tutsi had hidden arms for the RPF or were in possession of military plans, maps, or lists of Hutu to be killed. When Ntaganzwa and his supporters talked of carrying out a search for arms, they meant hunting down Tutsi.
Many understood how ridiculous it was to pretend that war had come to Nyakizu. As one citizen remarked, Where was the war? Who was here but ordinary people? It was just the language: all Tutsi, even those still inside the wombs of mothers, were Inkotanyi. But few dared voice such opinions at the time because, as the same witness explained, The Tutsi was Inyenzi and any one who did not talk that way was also Inyenzi.6
Occasionally the authorities themselves slipped and revealed the falseness of the pretense. In his famous speech at Butare, discussed below, Sindikubwabo describes the prefecture as a place as yet untouched by war. In a letter at the end of May, Ntaganzwa writes of preparing measures to be implemented if the Inkotanyi should attack Nyakizu.7 Indeed, the whole effort at returning life to normal belied the claim that the region was under attack.
Like national leaders, Ntaganzwa sought to heighten the fear of attack in order to solidify his personal control. Repeatedly he stressed the need to be always on guard.8 He found the demands of war-time security a useful cover for murdering rival Hutu as well as for massacring Tutsi, as is shown below. Others too adopted the same language and used the accusation of helping the enemy to discredit teachers who failed to show up for work, slackards who did their jobs poorly and criminals who robbed their neighbors.9
Ntaganzwa used the pretext of imminent attack also to justify asking his administrative superiors for ever more weapons, which he wanted to arm hissupporters and perhaps also to continue the trade which he had apparently established to Burundi. Carrying on the use of to work as a code word for killing, Ntaganzwa in one document referred to guns as tools, adding in parenthesis weapons to be sure his meaning was clear.10 On May 31, Ntaganzwa prepared an order for ammunition for five different kinds of weapons, totaling 7,600 bullets, suggesting that the commune was well-supplied with arms.11 But soon after he complained to the interim prime minister that Nyakizu had only two guns to protect itself; the patently false declaration was meant to spur delivery of more firearms.12 When Robert Kajuga, president of the Interahamwe, arrived in the town of Butare, Ntaganzwa wrote him about defending the sovereignty of our country. After thanking the militia head for his spirit of patriotism, Ntaganzwa asked him also to provide weapons as quickly as possible to counter an attack from the Inyenzi.13
On April 28, several days after the last of the massacres, the burgomaster summoned the communal councilors, the heads of cells and political party leaders to the communal office to examine the situation after the battle of Cyahinda.14 He began by reviewing the history of the warthat is, the responsibility of the RPF for having launched the war and hence for all the misery that followed from it. He talked at some length also about the refugees who had been in the churchwhere they had come from and why they had collaborated with the Inkotanyi to attack Nyakizu.15 After this review, everyone agreedor soNtaganzwa told his superiorthat they must follow the orders of the government in order to win the war.
Everyone may, in fact, have accepted this general principle and one of the national directives that Ntaganzwa announced seems to have caused no discussion: the implementation of the self-defense program. He informed them that all the communes of Butare and Gikongoro were to select ten sure and patriotic young men from each sector to learn the basics of individual tactics and how to handle firearms and grenades. The program formalized the arrangements used during the massacres, with local police and former soldiers commanding and training the civilians. The military commander of the zone would supervise the program.16
Explaining the second orderto carry on patrols and searches for the enemy and his materielNtaganzwa insisted that the the enemy is still here, the war goes on, patrols must be done, and we must look in the bush to see if the enemy is hiding there. But some community leaders hesitantly opposed this program. One speaker remarked that people are wondering whom we are looking for? Tutsi? He or another of the same leanings objected that the National Police had once prohibited barricades while another speaker interjected that people who had begun doing rounds on their own now had stopped doing them. A councilor complained that he could not be everywhere at once, presumably meaning to supervise barriers and patrols, and another speaker reported that it was too difficult to give everyone the papers necessary to get by the barriers. The councilor from Maraba sector, apparently seeking to set himself apart from the others, wanted it known that he had always told the population to do patrols. He suggested that those who are more intelligent can make those who are less intelligent understand the need for this work. In the end, Ntaganzwa and his supporters prevailed on this issue. The meeting decided: Inyenzi: search tomorrow starting at 7 a.m.; discover all the possible hiding places.17
The third order from aboveto avoid conflicts among ourselvesprovoked as much discussion as the second. One of Ntaganzwas firm supporters, Festus Nyamukaza, reminded the meeting that it was important to know the truth about the war to avoid dividing our forces. As the discussion about searches had showed, not everyone saw the truth as Nyamukaza did. But, beyond the larger division over the need to pursue Tutsi lay a host of lesser conflicts over thedisposition of the property of the victims. Some people had appropriated the fields of those who fled or had destroyed crops, including coffee, that could have been left to ripen for harvest. To avoid further conflict, the council adopted rules apparently suggested from above: the land left by Tutsi would belong to the state, to be divided at some future time; the standing crops were to belong to the commune and were to be protected by the people of the sector in which they were located; and other goods, including cattle and other animals, could be taken as loot, except for exceptionally valuable items which were to be delivered to the authorities for public sale. In addition, someone suggested adopting the rule that no one could pillage unless the National Police were there. One of the group asserted that pillaging without adequate supervision produced greed among certain people. He added: The person who takes something himself [that is, without official authorisation] is a thief. The burgomaster and some others were especially distressed at the pillage of goods from the health center and secondary school, property which belonged to the community rather than to the Tutsi. They demanded that goods taken from such places be returned immediately and warned that authorities would search houses for property that was not returned. They also stated that many items had been transported to other communes or across the border to Burundi. The burgomaster undertook to write his fellow administrators to ask their aid in recovering the stolen property.18
Once the questions of property had been discussed, there was one further pressing issue: disposing of the cadavers. Some bodies had been dumped into the long row of latrines near the church and others, those of persons killed near the frontier, had been tossed into the river. But thousands remained unburied. They smelled and they constituted a threat to public health. Several days after the massacres ended, the burgomaster started to organize burials. One survivor from Cyahinda who watched from the bushes near Nyakizu hill, reported:
On April 24, I was hiding in a small forest nearby. I could see from there that the burgomaster was making people bury cadavers. They had a Daihatsu truck and four pickup trucks and they gathered up the cadavers and they dug lines of holes.19
At the meeting on April 28, the community leaders decided that since the refugees who stayed at Cyahinda had left behind a lot of filththat is, theircadaverspeople would be called to do umuganda to clean up the church.20 When people failed to respond to the call, National Police went around in a pickup truck that belonged to the Red Cross, taking men by force to bury the bodies just as they had taken some by force to do the killing. Men hid to avoid being obliged to do the work. The umuganda continued for six days. The authorities then halted the increasingly unpopular work although many bodies still remained to be buried.21Clear the Remaining Brush
In early May, the Tutsi left alive in Nyakizu included young childrenusually those under two years of age were sparedand some women, either wives of Hutu or women who had been forced into temporary cohabitation with Hutu. In addition, there were a few important Tutsi men who had not been found, such as the priest of Cyahinda, Father Charles Ncogoza, who had escaped from the church during the siege. While Ntaganzwa and his agents were directing ordinary people to resume their usual occupations, they established a new and more specialized committee to supervise the genocide of the Tutsi who remained. On May 9, Ntaganzwa called a meeting of the head of the National Police detachment, councilors, heads of cells, leaders of the political parties, and members of the Technical Commission, a group of businessmen and other community leaders that usually advised on economic development. On cue from Ntaganzwa, the meeting recommended that security councils be established for the commune and for the sectors of Nyakizu. The move foreshadowed a directive to come from the national level two weeks later with the formal establishment of the civilian self-defense program.22 The declared purposes of the councils were to keep track of the development of the war and to propose ways to win it and to resolve conflicts over property taken from the victims. But for Ntaganzwa there was an unspoken objective as well: to replace the existing communal council by a group more committed to him and to the genocide. At a later meeting, one resident asked why security councils had been set up. Ntaganzwas supporter Francois Bazaramba answered that the new councils weretruly necessary to serve as intermediary between the population and the authorities, implying that existing organizations were insufficient for this purpose.23
The community leaders elected Ntaganzwas firmest supporters to the nine seats on the communal security council, including Celestin Batakanwa, Francois Bazaramba, Festus Nyamukaza, and Geoffrey Dusabe.23a The election recognized the role that these leaders had played since the start of the genocide as part of Ntaganzwas inner circle. According to one witness, Batakanwa took charge of installing the security councils within the sectors. Following this meeting, Ntaganzwa and his aides reorganized the barriers and patrols, which had been neglected since the end of the massacres. The former soldier Celestin Rucyahana reportedly directed the patrols and did so in such a satisfactory fashion that he was later named to the post of communal policeman.24
As part of the pacification effort decreed by the national authorities, prefectural officials on May 20 scheduled a series of meetings to inform the population about the new approach.25 The meeting for Nyakizu was scheduled for the next afternoon at the Viro marketplace. The morning of the next day, the priest who had escaped death at Cyahinda church was discovered. According to a witness:
The priest had been hidden at the home of one of the workers at the church. Other people realized that someone was at his home when the worker went to buy beer and bread. They saw this and they asked, How is it that such a poor man is buying bread like that? And people began talking among themselves. The talk went all the way to the sergeant [of the National Police, presumably Sgt. Corneille Ndindayino] who organized a search of the workers house. They found the priest. It was at Cyanwa. They brought the priest to the church, and they showed him the destruction. They said it was all his fault, because he had invited the Inkotanyi to the church. He was an accomplice. Then he waskilled by one of the National Police and he was buried there. This was several weeks after the massacre. It made a lot of people angry.26
That the priest was found and murdered on the day important officials were expected to visit the commune may be coincidental, but it seems more likely that his hiding place had been known for some time and that it was the anticipated visit that precipitated his killing. Given that popular opinion seems to have opposed his murder, the burgomaster may have acted on that day in order to benefit from the support of the visitors, if there were a negative reaction, and to have a recent accomplishment to present for their praise.
In addition to relating the news of the priests death to his visitors that day, the burgomaster also submitted a written report to the sub-prefect several days later. He wrote:
On the morning of May 21, there was trouble at Cyahinda caused by the discovery of Charles Ncogoza, who was the priest of Cyahinda parish and who had fled and hidden at the home of Alexis, who ordinarily worked at the parish.
When I arrived at 10 a.m., they had killed him and had arrested the people who had protected him, including the councilor of Cyahinda sector, who was suspected of complicity with those who had hidden him because they found a note addressed to the priest that talked about the councilor being replaced.
Soon after they searched the houses of all the councilors neighbors and they found other people who had been hidden at the home of Sherebuka.
I released all those who had hidden the priest because I thought popular anger against them had cooled down.27
As the testimony of the witness suggests, the popular anger may in fact have been directed more at those who killed the priest than at those who protected him.
In the afternoon of May 21, Lieutenant Colonel Simba, head of the self-defense program of Butare and Gikongoro, Lt. Col. Tharcisse Muvunyi, commander of the military district of Butare and Gikongoro, and at least one other high-ranking prefectural official arrived to show the importance that the authorities attached to altering the execution of the genocide. Witnesses in the communemention the presence of the person who would become the prefect, Col. Alphonse Nteziryayo, then assisting the prefect of Butare but later to replace him. Another witness, who traveled to Nyakizu with the group, states that the prefect at the time, Sylvain Nsabimana, was among the delegation and does not mention Nteziryayo.28 Like similar pacification visits by persons of importance to other locations, this one touched off a new round of killings. Only a few days before RTLM had reinforced the message that pacification did not mean an end to pursuing Tutsi. Kantano Habimana had declared the need to continue a war that would exterminate the Tutsi from the globe...make them disappear once and for all....29
Colonel Simba also recommended identifying all who had failed to participate in the killing thus far and searching their houses for evidence of support for the RPF.30 According to a woman survivor from the sector of Nyagisozi:
Simba came in May to do the final cleanup. At that time, there were still many people hiding. For example, a family might have been hiding their cousins or their nieces. Now it was time for the final order. Those who had been hidden, now it was time to kill them all. There were single women who had been forced to cohabit with Hutu men and they were still alive. So there was a meeting in the marketplace. Lots of people were there. After that, there were eight children who had been hidden by their grandmotherall eight little grandchildren were killed. And the girls married by force, who had accepted in order to have a hiding place, they were killed that night.31
Another witness confirms this information:
After the Cyahinda massacre, the next propaganda meeting took place at Viro market when Lt. Col. Muvunyi Tharcisse and Col. Simba Aloyis, and the person who later became the prefect came here from Butare. The situation had calmed down, but this meeting stirred everything up again. Their message was contre guerrilla.
One thing they said that I remember well was Clear the remaining brush, in Kinyarwanda Mukureho ibihuru byasigaye. Following these orders, they [the assailants] sought out Tutsi who were still hidden in families. Etienne Muragize, who had hidden eleven children at his house, was caught at this time....Etienne tried to pay off those who had come to search his house. He offered them 2,000 francs at first, then he added 3,000 more (about U.S.$27). He added a goat. But the eleven children were killed anyway.32
After the visit, authorities directed a new hunt for Tutsi. They also launched a new round of searches against Hutu who had refused to kill, accusing them of harboring accomplices or of stocking arms or of having documents, such as incriminating lists, in their houses. Often Hutu whose homes were searched had to pay a sum of money, such as 1,000 francs, to get the crowd to leave.33Speaking With One Voice
During their visit to Nyakizu, Simba and the other prefectural dignitaries strengthened Ntaganzwa by publicly expressing great appreciation for what he had done against the Inkotanyi. This approval encouraged him in efforts he had begun three days before to eliminate any possible opposition to himself and to the genocide from the communal council. The recently-created security committee was his tool and the demands of war-time security his pretext. He began the May 18 meeting of the security committee by asserting that some members of the communal council had failed to pass on his orders or had wrongly reported the content of council meetings. This created the risk of what his loyal supporter Bertin Bagaragaza described as a conflict of authority.34 Unless the authorities spoke with one voice, the people would be confused and would not know whom to follow.
Then, one after another of Ntaganzwas followers spoke up to accuse the communal councilors: Etienne Ntampuhwe, sector Mwoya, of living outside his sector and not knowing what was happening there; Albert Ndimbilinda, sector Nkakwa, of being too old for this work; Etienne Rugwizangoga, of having hidden accomplices, of having stopped patrols in some sectors, and of having pillaged goods; Innocent Mutaganda, sector Cyahinda, of having tried to set Hutu against each other; Laurent Ruhigangoga, of having fled the country; Emmanuel Ntakirutimana, of having hidden accomplices; Joseph Semigabo, sector Rusenge, of being very old; Daniel Niyirora, sector Yaramba, of having hidden six accomplices.
Adopting the language favored by Ntaganzwa, his men competed in heaping scorn on the communal councilors. Athanase Lindiro asked how anyone could work with those councilors who hid accomplices. Geoffrey Dusabe insisted that these councilors be removed before they betrayed us and allowed the enemy to come in and attack us. Continuing the pretense that Tutsi were the aggressors, Festus Nyamukaza denounced a councilor whose sector was attacked a whole week long in his absence and the people defended themselves, and when it was all over, when he came back, he did not utter a single word of encouragement [for what they had done.] The minutes of the meeting commented that Nyamukaza was known for recommendations that were full of good sense which presumably enhanced the value of his proposal to remove these people as quickly as possible, tomorrow if possible, because the more we delay, the more the enemy will profit from the situation. He was much applauded for his recommendation.35
After having agreed to remove eight of fourteen communal councilors, the security committee immediately named competent replacements who could work well with the intelligent people in their sectors, people whose bravery was appreciated by the people and on whom they could count in this bad period of war. The replacements were Bertin Gategero, Ngendamabago, Francois Ndagije, Misigaro, Mukama, Callixte Sahoguteta, and Tharcisse Mukwiye.36 With this action, Ntaganzwa completed his takeover of communal government, with a security committee composed of his staunchest supporters and a communal council purged of all opposition.
The councilors removed by Ntaganzwa belonged to the PSD and the MRND while those he appointed were all of the MDR. Those ousted from office protested to the prefect that Ntaganzwa had acted simply to favor his own party. They alsorallied support among fellow party members in Butare town and Ntaganzwa was officially reproved for having acted without appropriate authorization from his superiors.37
The affair eventually reached even the interim Prime Minister Kambanda, one of Ntaganzwas patrons in MDR-Power. In writing to him, Ntaganzwa turned the charge of partisanship back on his critics, once again using the cover of war-time needs. He wrote: Thus you see that while some are sweating blood to make war, others are instead hung up with the affairs of their parties.38 He condemned the councilors who had been removed, saying it was their fault that the patrols and barriers were not being implemented satisfactorily. For example, he said, the Gihango councilor obstructed orders so much that the people of his sector had had to tie him up in order to get him to work, but it was wasted effort; the patrols still were not done. Any delay in replacing the slackards would leave us open to the enemy, since the patrols, the barriers and the meetings take place only at their [i.e., the councilors] direction.39 Ntaganzwa assured his superiors that the replacements all distinguished themselves as great leaders in the war that took place at Cyahinda and were the ones who directed the attacks when Cyahinda was liberated (for which he uses the kinyarwanda word kubohoza).40
Other sources confirm that some of the councilors, like Albert Nzimbirinda and Innocent Mutaganda seem to have actually opposed the genocide. Natganzwas accusations, however, should not be taken as proof of resistance to the slaughter. He might have falsely charged persons opposed to him personally with opposition to the genocide just to discredit them and to justify removing them from the council. If his assessment were accurate, then an important part of the politicalleadership of Nyakizu in fact disapproved of the killing of Tutsi, although they showed that disapproval with varying amounts of courage and persistence.41
Ntaganzwa sought to ensure that the ordinary people also speak with the same voice as the authorities. He called a series of meetings to inform the population about the changes in communal councilors, which, he reported to his superiors, were greeted with popular satisfaction everywhere. Following the usual model, Ntaganzwa began the meeting in Mwoya sector on May 29 by explaining the origins of this war, dating back to the events of 1959. He went on to insist that the Hutu could win if they stayed united, if they put their forces together and avoided anything that could divide them. Perhaps inspired by Ntaganzwas rhetoric, a local resident asked that an umuganda be called to cut the brush where the Inyenzi might hide and everyone present agreed to participate. In Cyahinda sector the same day, Ntaganzwa was helped by Ambroise Serubibi in explaining the history of the war. Serubibi then publicly blamed the members of his own family for hindering the genocide. He said, It is really unfortunate and sad to see that you hide Inyenzi. In his report, the burgomaster remarked that the blame was well placed because many people were found hidden in this family.42
At the direction of the burgomaster, communal councilors and their subordinates held frequent meetings to galvanise public awareness during May and June.43 In sector Rutobwe, for example, the councilor Celestin Batakanwa said that he held many meetings to explain the whole war situation to the people, so that now they were no longer afraid and were ready to fight.44 The meetings were public occasions for reaffirming commitment to the genocide and for accusing others of insufficient zeal. Francois Bazaramba reported that at a sector meeting in Maraba, he had raised a little problem at Birambo where some Hutu workers hadprotected Tutsi. The Tutsi had left, but there was still a climate of suspicion surrounding those workers. One of those suspected, a man named Gideon who was not native to Nyakizu, had taken the floor to accept his error and to ask pardon. The apology was not accepted and Gideon was chased from the commune, an appropriate action said Festus Nyamukaza because Gideon was a bad type, very sneaky. Approving this, the meeting decided that such people should not trouble public security and instead should go back to their home communes. Nyamukaza also raised the problem of Hutu men who had Tutsi wives, saying that they too created a climate of mistrust in the heart of the population. There is no indication of immediate action to deal with this mistrust, but the discussion indicated that such men might expect to be attacked in the future.45
Approval from Above
In pushing so hard to increase his own power, Ntaganzwa sometimes drew reproaches from above, but for his vigorous pursuit of the genocide, he received only praise. Soon after the security committee removed the communal councilors, Interim Prime Minister Kambanda came to Nyakizu, armed and in military uniform. He was said to have delivered 200,000 francs (about U.S.$1000) to Ntaganzwa to help with local expenses. The money allowed Ntaganzwa to solve the problem of the cadavers left unburied from the April massacres: the burgomaster used 8,000 francs (U.S.$40) to buy beer to pay workers to finish the job.46 But the political capital represented by Kambandas visit was even more important than the money. According to one witness, People here saw it as a gesture of encouragement. 47
Throughout the genocide, Assiel Simbalikure, the sub-prefect of Busoro, who was Ntaganzwas immediate superior, also strongly backed his activity against the Inyenzi. On May 26, he wrote:
I thank you with all my heart for your determination in protecting and assuring the security of Nyakizu commune...with the help of the population as is shown in your letters no. 106/04/09.01/4 of May 17, 1994 and no. 109/04.09.01/4 of May 20, 1994.
I encourage you to keep on in the same way and each time that the enemy, that is, the Inyenzi-Inkotanyi, shows his head, capture him so that he can be punished.48
On June 1, Simbalikure wrote to thank the burgomaster for the good ideas he had presented to the people of the commune in a series of meetings about the war and for the careful attention that he had shown to finding the enemy Inyenzi-Inkotanyi.49
In another letter, also dated June 1, the sub-prefect sent Ntaganzwa and his fellow burgomasters instructions about the self-defense program, including:
Search everywhere in the commune for the enemy because he is clever and can sneak in like a snake. The people of the commune should do this [i.e., search] in every cell every day and the barriers should be well guarded.
I thank you again for the courage that you always show in these difficult times. Do not tire; the enemy is always the same and he is not yet disarmed.50
Two days later, Simbalikure again insisted that the enemy must be sought everywhere and must be flushed out and neutralized once and for all. And again he thanked Ntaganzwa for having shown him that the people of Nyakizu havedecided to defeat the enemy.51 Two days after that, he closed a letter wishing the bourgmaster peace and even greater zeal.52
The Security Committee
Just like innumerable other councils and committees that filled Rwandas recent administrative past, the security committee met regularly, discussed at length, and recorded its activities in minutes of the meeting. The procedure of the administration was normal; its objective was not. Like the more innocuous committees established earlier in other regions to assure public security, it purported to be protecting the population, but it did so by trying to eliminate that part of the population identified as Tutsi and friends of Tutsi. After mid-May, it carried out its responsibilities largely through the young men trained in the civilian self-defense program. According to the minutes of the May 18 meeting, these young men were to protect the sectors from which they came and to train other young men at the level of the cells. 53
In good administrative practice, the council ordinarily began by reviewing action taken since the last meeting. Thus on June 2, Lindiro of Gihango sector reported:
We searched and we discovered five Inkotanyi originally from Ngoma commune. There were others named Nkundizera and Munyankindi who escaped whom we are still looking for.54
At the same meeting Batakanwa of Rutobwe sector reported an unsuccessful search for an Inkotanyi named Jean Nzirabatinyi who was not found at Rugwiganzogas house, where he had been said to be hiding.
The participants ennumerated meetings heldapparently always with satisfactory resultsand reported on the functioning of barriers and patrols. They identified troublemakers, such as Pascal Burindwi, who was obstructing patrols inthe sector of Yaramba. They examined causes of concern, such as the continued sighting of lights in the forest of Nyakizu hill, which might indicate that the enemy still lurked among the trees despite the massacre of the Tutsi there. They assigned tasks, directing that the self-defense recruits should take over barriers and patrols. They specified that men with the most education should be assigned to the barriers during the day when passersby were most numerous because they were most able to scrutinize identity papers for any irregularities. They stated needs: flashlights for night searches, but especially more weapons. And they designated the next targets: on May 18, this was the whole sector of Cyahinda; on June 2, it was certain deserted homespresumably of Tutsi who had been killed or fledand the homes of Hutu known to oppose the genocide.55 Ntaganza set the stage early in the June 2 meeting by announcing that an informant had recently revealed that many arms were hidden in the commune. Using the usual pretext to cover looking for Tutsi, he insisted that people must search with the greatest care in all places where arms might be hidden. The council took its cue. Under the heading Miscellany, the minutes record:
1). All barriers should be put at places designated by authorities.
2). The barrier next to the communal office needs a policeman.
3). Carry out searches, looking everywhere for arms.
a. Places where we must search for arms:
· Where Sezikeye used to live
· Where Gashugi Emmanuel used to live
· Where Gashugi Celestin used to live
· Where Charles Rwahama used to live
· Where Joseph Kabanda used to live
b. People whose homes must be searched
· Nshimiryayo Ange
· Rugwizangoga Etienne
· Harerimana Jean Baptiste
4). Nyakizu hill must be carefully guarded.56The Burgomaster: More Feared than Trusted
Even after having secured his control of the communal council, Ntaganzwa continued using the cover of security concerns to attack his personal enemies. Oneof the persons targeted by the Security Committee, Rugwizangoga, was a councilor who had been removed on May 18. Ntaganzwa was particularly anxious to destroy him because he opposed the genocide and because he continued to have standing in the community. The burgomaster had harassed Rugwizangoga for some time and immediately after the June 2 council meeting he had him beaten badly and thrown in the communal lockup.57
Another whose house was targeted by the Security Committee was Nshimiryayo, a prosperous businessman, older than Ntaganzwa and a former deputy in the assembly. Linked to the moderate MDR leader Twagiramungu, he had posed a challenge to Ntaganzwa even before the genocide. On April 15, Nshimiryayo had been warned that his house was about to be attacked and he fled with his family to Cyahinda just before the massacre there began. They survived and later escaped from the commune, his wife and children going in one direction while Nshimiryayo went in another and took shelter in the adjacent commune of Mubuga. In official correspondence throughout May and June, and presumably in informal contacts with people of the commune, Ntaganzwa fired one accusation after another against Nshimiryayo: that he was trying to cause conflicts among Hutu and thus allow the enemy to infiltrate; that he had a Tutsi wife who behaved like a real Inyenzi; that his son was a recruit to the RPF; that his son was in Burundi preparing an attack on Nyakizu, planning to kill the local authorities; that he was among the Inkotanyi who tried to conquer Nyakizu on April 15; that a booklet containing the statutes of the RPF had been found stuck in the fence around his house (a later version was that the booklet was found on Nshimiryayo himself); that he had gone to Mulindi (the RPF base) to meet General Kagame; that he had prepared a grenade attack against Ntaganzwa.58
Just after the June 2 meeting, Ntaganzwa arrested Nshimiryayo but he feared him too much to kill him or even to keep him in prison in Nyakizu, so he sent him to the prefectural capital of Butare and asked the prosecutor to deal with him. Theprosecutor found no grounds for arrest and passed the case to the prefect as an administrative affair. In the meantime Nshimiryayo was able to enlist the help of two sub-prefects, one of whom was a relative by marriage, the other of whom was from Nyakizu, and he was released from jail. In the meantime, assailants had pillaged and destroyed the several buildings of his prosperous residence.59
Ntaganzwas attempt to destroy Nshimiryayo led the burgomaster into conflict with authorities in neighboring Mubuga, where Nshimiryayo had fled for protection. He traded accusations with the burgomaster of Mubuga and even arrested him in mid-May, accusing him of having come to Nyakizu to kill him. It was in fact the burgomaster of Mubuga who was then murdered, killed by a crowd in his own commune, whether with the involvement of Ntaganzwa is not known.60 Disputes between people from Nyakizu and people from Mubuga continued into the weeks after.
When the prefect learned of the Nshimiryayo case, the difficulties between the communes, and perhaps also the beating of Rugwizangoga, which had been brought to the attention of the sub-prefect, he reproached Ntaganzwa for having gone too far. He ordered Ntaganzwa to moderate his behavior several times, once instructing him:
Avoid everything that could encourage quarrels, disputes, and hatreds in the commune; we understand that there are many false accusations, lies, and unexplained murders and that many residents have more fear than trust for their authorities, to such an extent that some have preferred leaving their commune.61
From the context, it is clear that the unexplained murders referred only to Hutu victims, not to Tutsi. Ntaganzwa made his reply in the same terms. With apparently no sense of the outrageousness of his words, he wrote the prefect thathis political enemies had defamed him by spreading unfounded rumors that there had been many killings in Nyakizu.62
Allies into Enemies
Ntaganzwa exercised increasingly harsh control over Nyakizu during May and June. The communal councilors who had been removed in May wrote the prefect in June asking for protection for themselves and their families against the burgomaster.63 The assistant burgomaster, Augustin Namahungu, who had been involved in a dispute with the burgomaster some time before, was attacked by bandits who completely destroyed his house, taking even its doors. He was left with nothing but the clothes on his back and by early June was forced to beg help from the burgomaster to get reestablished in his own home.64
Even those Hutu who had loyally supported Ntaganzwa suffered if they seemed to hinder his drive to increase his wealth and power. One such person, who had helped Ntaganzwa against political rivals during the months before the genocide, complained to the burgomaster that he was so harassed that he was afraid to report for work:
Since you know what I did during the time of multipartyism and how I have behaved in this war...what advice would you give me since I have had to give up working in order not to be killed by those who are after me, especially now that a tract is going around saying that we are Inyenzi and that we are against the Government of National Salvation [guvernoma yabatabazi] when you know how much I like that government and am working for it!
After reminding the burgomaster of his previous services, he asks plaintively, And now have I really become an Inyenzi?65
One of the unexplained murders referred to by the prefect was that of François Nzaramba, once Ntaganzwas loyal supporter. The burgomaster accused Nzaramba of having allied with the Mubuga burgomaster against him. Soon after Nzaramba was found dead and local people were convinced that Ntaganzwa had had him killed.66
A Thirst for Possessions
In many cases, Ntaganzwa fell out with former supporters, including the head of the JDR, over the division of the spoils, whether from Tutsi who had been killed, from public property that had been pillaged, or from loot taken at the barriers. According to one witness, Ntaganzwa had a thirst for possessions.67 In addition to automobiles, he claimed other major items that had been stolen, including computers, medicines and medical equipment, solar panels, and sewing machines. He demanded that ordinary people who had taken such items hand them over and he even beat those who did not comply promptly. Many of these items he funneled south of the border to his colleague, head of the adjacent commune in Burundi, even as he wrote himat the request of the communal councilasking his help in getting such stolen goods returned.68
As in his drive for power, so too in his search for possessions, Ntaganzwa was ready to murder even Hutu who shared his commitment to the genocide. In the most dramatic case of this kind, Ntaganzwa was apparently responsible for killing three Interahamwe from Mubuga commune in order to get their Suzuki jeep. In recounting the incident, the burgomaster described coming upon the three stopped by barrier guards:
We realized that these people were Inkotanyi because they were carrying maps of the city of Kigali (neighborhoods of Kicukiro and Kacyiru) on which were written the names of people like Colonel Bagosora. They also had two grenades. These people also had other pieces of paper, including one with the numbers of firearms and a list which summarized donations given to the Inyenzi.69
As with similar correspondence about Tutsi who had been killed, the letter said nothing more about the fate of those taken, but closed simply with the request for more arms.
Perhaps to forestall any questions, Ntaganzwa himself raised the incident at the next security committee meeting. He began with the usual reminder that ever since the time when the war was raging at Cyahinda, the Inkotanyi had made clear their intention of capturing Nyakizu. He then pointed out that the three taken at the barrier had all been Hutu and he assured the council that it would be fatal to continue the mistake of thinking that it was Tutsi [alone] who were the Inkotanyi. It is remarkable that Ntaganzwa felt sufficiently secure to risk killing people who were well-known as Interahamwe.70 It is even more remarkable that he covered his crime by the brazen lie that they were Inkotanyi, which he proved by the same supposed proof that he used against Tutsi: the presence in their possession of arms, lists, and material for attacks. It is also worth noting that Bagosora was the figure whom Ntaganzwa cited to exemplify the national leaders who were supposedly going to be killed.
In a number of subsequent incidents, passing Hutu were stopped at barriers in Nyakizu and were arrested, supposedly because their papers were not in order or for some other reason. The letters reporting these incidents do not indicate whether they were simply robbed and then released or whether they suffered some worse fate. In reporting one case, Ntaganzwa again argued that it was justifiable to arrest Hutu on charges of being Inkotanyi. He wrote that people coming to Nyakizuwithout appropriate documents should expect to be detained and should not count on their Hutuness as a protection.71
With the greed of the burgomaster as model, others in the commune raided fellow Hutu to get goods originally pillaged from Tutsi. Joseph Musayidire and his group, for example, attacked Daniel Munyambibi to steal four sewing machines, saying that they had been looted from Tutsi. Ntaganzwa seems to have been particularly annoyed over this case because Musayidire, a communal policeman whom he had fired a few months before, claimed to be confiscating the goods in the name of the authorities. Ntaganzwa had the gang arrested and put in the communal jail.72
Like the burgomaster, the young people at the barriers attacked anyone if he looked like he had money. The young people took identity cards from those whom they assaulted, tore them up and then killed the victims.73 Older members of the community complained that young men who had been trained in the use of arms were so undisciplined that they have become completely ungovernable. Even when not working at the barriers or on patrol, they hung about on the roads, playing cards and looking for someone to victimize. At a meeting of the security committee in early June, participants complained that at Nyagisozi these men profit from the situation to create disorder, above all by stopping passersby and taking from them whatever they have on them. At the same meeting, one participant said a communal policeman had to be put at the barriers in Rusenge to stop the misbehavior of the guards.74 The young men also pillaged crops in the fields left by the Tutsi and sometimes vandalized crops that were not yet ripe.
While the young engaged in theft and pillage, their elders were busy appropriating fields left by the Tutsi or cutting the trees in their afforestation plots. Men apparently seized the property of Hutu widows of Tutsi husbands. People from sectors where there had been few Tutsi raided crops in areas where there hadbeen more and tried to take over vacant land, efforts which caused conflicts between the different sectors.75The Enemy Arrives at Nyakizu
In late May and early June, people from communes to the north and the northeast began to stream through Nyakizu. Some were Hutu fleeing the advance of RPF troops. Others were the last of the Tutsi fleeing the genocide. Ntaganzwa wrote the sub-prefect that he feared that infiltrators, carrying suspect identity papers, were hidden among the displaced persons. He reported that an Inyenzi captured and killed in Kibangu sector supposedly revealed before he died that thirty others had infiltrated the region. Ntaganzwa resolved to hunt them down in all the sectors of Nyakizu commune to abort their plans, for which he of course needed an immediate delivery of more weapons.76 The prefectural security committee had decided to assemble all the displaced persons in the commune of Gishamvu and so, the sub-prefect said, Ntaganzwa had the right to bar them from his commune. He advised Ntaganzwa: Search among the local residents, search throughout the commune, ferret out the enemy, show him that the commune of Nyakizu is inviolable.77 The burgomaster then organized a new wave of killings, targeting Tutsi among the displaced persons.
In early June Ntaganzwa heard that Burundian soldiers were moving into position to invade Rwanda and passed on the rumor to his superiors.78 This news turned out to be falsethere is no indication that the largely Tutsi army of Burundi ever planned to attackbut the push of the RPF towards Butare and Gitarama was real. As the RPF troops marched nearer, the local administration stepped up the preparations for self-defense. The sub-prefect of Busoro ordered that the communal police and the young men trained in the civilian self-defense program teach the population how to dig trenches and how to encircle the enemy. He directed that they should increase their vigilance and search for Inyenzi every day throughout the commune. In contrast to the position taken by the government later, the sub-prefect insisted that the people should not flee. Instead they were to hide in trenches until the shooting stopped and then rise up all together to attack the enemy, flatten him and kill him.79
As the enemy that had been so long the focus of Ntaganzwas efforts came ever closer to Nyakizu, the burgomaster seemed to pay less attention to them than to local political challengers. During the month of June, he lost favor with his superiors and the people of the commune turned away from him, two developments that were certainly related. The men whom Ntaganzwa had tried to destroy, Nshimiryayo, Rugwizanzoga, and others, called important outsiders to their defense. The prefect criticized Ntaganzwa harshly, both in meetings and through correspondence, and then disciplined him by ordering him to hand over two of the vehicles that were part of his booty, including the one taken from the three Interahamwe from Mubuga.80
In addition, Ntaganzwa continued to have disputes with authorities in the adjacent commune of Mubuga and in the prefecture of Gikongoro, where the sub-prefect Biniga had become hostile to him. Ill-feeling between the authorities was mirrored by squabbles between people of the two communes.81 These divisions among Hutu who otherwise agreed on the genocide were just the kind of splits that national authorities had feared and tried to avoid.
Ntaganzwa tried to defend himself by appealing to Robert Kajuga, the president of the Interahamwe, with whom he solicited an interview so that he could explain clearly what is happening here and explain some things that you seem not to understand very well.82 Ntaganzwa also wrote a long appeal to the interim prime minister and even organized a meeting on June 18 in Butare town of peopleoriginally from Nyakizu, presumably to discuss security concerns, but probably also to deal with his own political problems.83
As the people of Nyakizu became aware that Ntaganzwa no longer enjoyed unqualified support from his superiors, they felt freer to question his authority. Those long disgusted by the genocide as well as others more narrowly concerned with attacks on local Hutu leaders joined in a mass rising against him. As one witness put it, People rose up saying, he is killing everyone, even the priest.84
The realization that the RPF were advancing and that the massive slaughter of Tutsi had done nothing to guarantee security also contributed to popular rejection of Ntaganzwa. From the Hutu fleeing through the commune, people heard that the RPF troops were rolling forward, news that contradicted the optimistic official bulletins being broadcast over the radio. At the same time, they heard that the RPF were killing many civilians, information that reinforced the fears created by radio reports.85 In mid-June, soldiers of the Burundian army fired on Hutu on their side of the border, causing a number of them to flee briefly to Nyakizu. Not of great significance in itself, this incident also added to the insecurity felt by many in the commune.86
Ntaganzwa and his supporters sought to counter the growing fear and discouragement among the peopleand their own loss of controlby multiplying meetings and increasing exhortations about the importance of security measures. But people stopped coming to meetings and they no longer showed up to do patrols or man the barriers. By the time of its last meeting on July 3, the security committee was finding it impossible to get men to do this work and was forced to offer to pay men to do it.87
At that meeting, the burgomaster announced that the RPF had taken the town of Butare. He declared that the council must make a common decision on what to do next, whether to stand and fight or to flee. Sergeant Corneille, head of the National Police whose men had defended Nyakizu so well against the unarmed Tutsi civilians announced that if the Inkotanyi came in large numbers, then there would be no choice but to flee. In mid-May, when the enemy was mostly women and children left from the first massacres, the councilor Festus Nyamukaza had declared that it is lack of firmness that can lead us to defeat.88 In early July, faced with a real enemy, he showed considerably less resolve. He declared: If the soldiers were not able to handle the situation at the front, we cannot deceive ourselves or the people by saying that we can do it when we are not even armed. The people cannot succeed where the soldiers have failed.89
With the enemy finally in sight, Ntaganzwa and his followers fled westward through Gikongoro and then on to Zaire. They left behind more than 20,000 Tutsi slain by their work.90