New threat to wife of missing journalist: “you will soon join him …”

“We will not be held accountable for your blood”, says the author of the threat.

Unlike the threat she received last March that was painted in blood on the wall, the new threat was issued in a letter supposedly signed by an identified police commissioner.

Unlike the threat she received last March that was painted in blood on the wall, the new threat was issued in a letter supposedly signed by an identified police commissioner.

The wife of Jean Bigirimana, the former Iwacu journalist who went missing from July 2016, has received a chilling message threatening her with death, a second threat she has received in the last three months.

The author, an unidentified “police commissioner” accuses the journalist’s wife Godeberthe Hakizimana, of travelling the world tarnishing the image of her motherland as her husband had started it. “You will soon join him where he is imprisoned”.

What is meant by “imprisoned” is not known since none has ever claimed to know the journalist’s whereabouts since his disappearance.

Journalist Jean Bigirimana mysteriously disappeared on 22 July 2016. He has never been heard of ever since. Iwacu searched for him to no avail. Some fear he was one of the bodies who were found during the search. The two bodies found in the Mubarazi River, in the central province of Muramvya, were hastily buried without formal identification.

He left a wife and two children. Last March, his wife Hakizimana was threatened with graffiti written in blood on the wall.

This Tuesday morning, while she was doing her household chores, Hakizimana, 29, says her neighbours called her to see a letter they described as threatening and said was meant for her. The letter was found by a young child who then showed it to people in the compound.

“When I saw it, I found it really threatening and that it was intended for me”, says Hakizimana.

The threatening message written in Kirundi (Burundi native language) starts by a proverb that literally translates as, “who won’t hear, will hear when his eyes turn red”.

Then, the tract claims the senders of the message have closely monitored Hakizimana’s actions and that “we are about to vomit you.”

The new threat further accuses Hakizimana of having travelled to neighbouring Rwanda to meet with the so-called “UN experts”. “Very soon, you will see you that you have dug your own grave”, it reads.

As a way to save herself, Hakizimana is advised to “join the system”. The letter also recommands her to backtrack what she has supposedly said to tarnish her country.

Moreover, the tract threatens her against receiving journalists when she gets threats. “Never call again those people you always gather pretending you have escaped being harmed”.

The letter warns her that if she is still alive it’s only because the authors wanted to let her live.

“I am not secure in this country”

“It’s frightening”, says the mother of two. This is directly linked to the last threat I received [three months ago] when they wrote a threatening message in blood on the wall”.

She says she has not got any visit or message from the police or administration. “I wish they came and saw that I am in danger”, she says.

She says she lives in constant fear. She has limited movements for fear for her security. “I do not do anything that requires me to move. I even wanted to continue my studies but I couldn’t because my security was not guaranteed”, she sobs. “I am not secure in this country.”

“The words are really threatening”, says Pierre Nkurikiye, Spokesman for the Burundi Police. He says Hakizimana should hand the threatening letter over to the local police for verification.

“If it is proved the threat is real, the police will carry out investigations to find the authors and take any other necessary measure to guarantee her security as it is for other citizens”, says Nkurikiye.