Violette Uwamahoro a British-Rwandan calmly admitted to Court that indeed contents of the WhatsApp conversation with her cousin were true.  However, she told court that she was not a threat to national security. By Daniel Sabiiti

Violette Uwamahoro a British-Rwandan woman arrested at the beginning of this month for engaging in subversive activities with the aim of recruiting Rwandans into a criminal organisation, has pleaded with court to grant her bail because she is five months pregnant. She argues that she may not get proper antenatal care in prison.

Under heavy downpour, Uwamahoro 39, arrived at fully packed Gasabo intermediate court clad in blue jacket, grey dress and braided hair . She was represented by a female defense lawyer.

Her partner in crime that is also a cousin brother Jean Pierre Shumbusho also arrived in court with a male lawyer. Shumbusho is accused of crimes including; espionage, conspiracy to overthrow the government and destabilize national security. He has until recently been a serving police officer.

The co-accused stood side by side their lawyers while facing the judge. Before the proceedings started, the co-accused were informed of presence of journalists in the courtroom.

While in court, Uwamahoro was very cooperative and calmly responded to all questions from the judge and repeatedly smiled admitting that indeed contents of the WhatsApp conversation with her cousin were true.  However, she told court that she was not a threat to national security.

“It’s true I chatted with Uwamahoro but thought it was a simple family conversation and never thought it would lead to this,” Shumbusho calmly told the judge when asked about the chat he had with Uwamahoro.

Married to Faustin Rukundo a Rwandan living in UK, Uwamahoro told court that the absence of family will make it difficult to carry the foetus while in prison and asked the British High Commission in Rwanda to intervene.

“My client is pregnant and subject to article 56 – she requires proper antenatal care until birth. A pregnant mother needs well prepared food and cannot get this in jail,” said Antoinette Mukamusoni, the defense lawyer.

Prosecution however, said that both Uwamahoro and cousin brother are wanted for serious crimes, which are still under investigation for details yet to be presented in court and demanded that both are remanded.

“We still need to get more details in this investigation which involves big crimes, and suspects could easily jump bail if released,” the prosecution said.

Uwamahoro was apprehended by Rwanda National Police (RNP) this March 2017, based on her communications with her brother through WhatsApp – she intended to recruit and create a criminal network against the government.

Defense lawyer Mukamusoni said that her client had handed over all communication gadgets and passwords to her email, and her next of kin is in Byumba (currently in Gicumbi district) and others are very far from Rwanda.

“To guarantee my availability I am asking that the British embassy in Kigali provides a house where I can be detained. This way you will be able to get me anytime I am needed,” Uwamahoro said, when asked to comment on her detention.

Uwamahoro obtained British nationality in 2014 but have lived in the UK since 2004.

(L) Violette Uwamahoro smiling to journalists and her lawyer outside courtroom

Damning WhatsApp communication

Prosecution said that in her communication with Shumbusho, Uwamahoro asked for details about Rwanda’s security operations especially where government officials were heading, or what police was planning to do.

Shumbusho pleaded guilty for passing on these details to Uwamahoro and said that he had no hidden motive to expose government top secrets.

“We had several conversations about Rwanda and it was a general communication and I knew I was just talking to my sister,” Shumbusho told court.

At one point Shumbusho who was working at Kigali International Airport as police officer, is believed to have told Uwamahoro that he was denied salary allowances while other police officers received it.

In response, court heard that Uwamahoro said, “I told you that Tutsi government is not good. You better come to UK and we find ways we can enroll you to school.”

Shumbusho lawyer pleaded with court to release him pending the ongoing investigation into these allegations.

Court decision on the pre-detention trial case will be heard on Monday March 27, 2017.