Bury St Edmunds: Two members of Rwandan Paralympic team who trained in Suffolk are “missing”
08:54 19 September 2012
TWO members of the Rwandan Paralympic team who trained in Suffolk have gone missing.
Sitting volleyball players, James Rutikanga and Eric Ngirinshuti, vanished with all their belongings from the Athletes’ Village during the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
The duo, who trained for two weeks at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre, were part of the men’s squad that failed to win any of their four matches at ExCeL and were eliminated in the group stages of the competition.
Rwandan Chef de Mission for the London 2012 Paralympics Celestin Nzeyimana said attempts to trace the pair after their disappearance on September 9 had proved fruitless.
“They went missing without their service passports.
“Efforts to find them have so far yielded nothing,” said Mr Nzeyimana.
He added: “We are, however, confident that they will be caught and maybe deported back since they don’t have any documents to prove their presence in London.”
Members of the 14-strong team had previously spoken warmly of their time in Suffolk during a number of civil ceremonies held in their honour.
Jeanmarie Nsengiyumva, the coach of their sitting volleyball team, said: “It’s been fantastic and my first time in Suffolk. We have been lucky with the weather, the sun was here – not too cloudy, not too hot.”
On the same night Mr Rutikanga and Mr Ngirinshuti went missing, a judoka and four officials from the Democratic Republic Congo also vanished in London.
In all, more than a dozen atheletes from Cameroon, Eritrea, Guinea and the Ivory Coast have been reported missing since the Olympics and Paralympics.
Weynay Ghebresilasie, an 18-year-old steeplechaser who carried Eritrea’s flag during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, recently came out of hiding to say he is seeking asylum from his homeland’s oppressive regime.
A spokesman for the Home Office said he could not talk about the individual cases.
Warren Smyth, CEO Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “We were delighted to host the Paralympic Team from 12 August - 24 August for their Pre games training camp. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and their athletes an inspiration to others. While they were in Bury their focus was very much on the Games and doing well for their country. Our relationship with Rwanda continues through the legacy project Go Rwanda.
“We understand that two athletes from the sitting volleyball team did not return to Rwanda with the rest of their team and this is very much a matter for the National Paralympic Committee.”
At present, none of the athletes are breaking any British laws because they all have a special London 2012 visa to stay in the UK until November.