A pastor with a Ruhango-based church, Francoise Mukamurenzi, has been arrested and detained following the death of a 15-year old girl who passed away in her church.
Mukamurenzi, a pastor with a new ministry, the Redeemed Church also known as Horeb Church, is being held at Nyamagana Police Station as investigations continue.
The deceased was identified as Ariette Tuyisingize. She hailed from Butare cell, Kabacuzi Sector of Muhanga District. Police sources told The New Times she had been brought from Muhanga by her parents who believed she was possessed by demons and hence sought the pastor's intervention.
At the time of the girl's demise last Thursday, a group of other sick people were straddled around the ill-fated church's premises in Nyamagana, Ruhango District, Police said.
Ruhango District Police Commander (DPC), CIP Mark Gasangwa, told The New Times that preliminary investigations indicate that the deceased had spent six days in the church.
It is reported that the cleric attempted to conceal the death after realising that the girl was no longer breathing. She allegedly instructed her followers not to reveal the ordeal, but after some while, a resident informed the police of the death, which prompted the arrest.
The death occurred on Thursday at around 3.00 am but the pastor was detained at 4.00 pm, sources said.
"She [Tuyisingize] was sick and instead of taking her to hospital, her parents brought her to the church," the police officer said as he condemned the act.
"People should know that even under medical treatment, one can still appeal for God's help and be heard."
By press time, the body of the deceased had been taken to Kabgayi hospital, Muhanga District, for post mortem examinations.
Speaking to the New Times, the Regional Police Commander (RPC), CSP Elias Mwesigye, warned religious leaders against duping people to believe that they could heal without medical assistance.
"The Police do not interfere with the freedom of religion and worship. But we will not tolerate the destruction of public order," Mwesigye warned.
"Church leaders must know that it is prohibited to dissuade residents from seeking medical help whenever they are sick. This is against the law and anyone who doesn't abide will be held accountable."
Mwesigye urged the clergy to make sure the lives of their congregations are not put to danger.
Last Thursday, a group of 16 members of an outlawed religious sect, Abagorozi, were arraigned before a court in Ruhango for frustrating government policies and programmes.
The members, including their families reportedly neither study nor seek medical treatment. They are also said to resist various national programmes including the monthly community work, Umuganda, the health insurance (Mituelle de Santé).
The group was arrested two weeks ago in Bweramana Sector, Ruhango District, during a mass at the house of one of the members.
The ruling of the case is set for August 6.