Families Demand Justice: The Tragic Case of Denis Kazungu

Families of the victims of Denis Kazungu are urgently requesting the authorities to compel him to reveal the whereabouts of their loved ones’ bodies, enabling them to conduct dignified burials.

The Rwandan Investigation Bureau (RIB) informed Voice of America that they have commenced assisting those who lost family members by conducting DNA testing.

Mrs. Odeta Mukangarambe, one of the claimants for compensation in the case against Denis Kazungu, is seeking justice for crimes including murder. She, too, lost her son, Eric Turatsinze, whom Kazungu confessed to killing before using his identity documents for deception.

In an interview with Voice of America at the Nyarugenge High Court where Kazungu’s trial is underway, Mukangarambe expressed her deep grief, stating that the loss of her son remains an open wound rather than a healed scar. She is among those imploring various institutions for Kazungu to disclose the location of the bodies for a proper burial.

As a claimant in the Kazungu case, Mukangarambe confirmed that she was among the first to undertake foundational DNA tests.

Mr. Thierry Murangira, spokesperson for the RIB, reported to Voice of America that after discovering bodies, they sent them for forensic analysis to establish familial links with those missing their loved ones. In a written statement, he mentioned that seven people were identified and subsequently laid to rest. He added that they are waiting for more individuals to undergo DNA testing to identify and release the remains for burial.

Another man, who chose to remain anonymous, shared that Kazungu murdered his son, Yves Kimenyi, a recent university graduate. He recounted his tireless efforts to obtain information about his son from Kazungu, highlighting the significant role his son played in their family. He lost his son in late 2021.

The Trial Postponement

The trial, where Kazungu is accused of murdering up to 14 people and burying them in a pit he dug inside his house in Kicukiro District, was expected to proceed this Friday. However, it was delayed. Kazungu participated in the hearing via Skype from the central prison of Nyarugenge at Mageragere, on the outskirts of Kigali.

His lawyer, Faustin Murangwa, appointed by the Rwandan Bar Association after it was determined that Kazungu couldn’t afford legal fees, requested the postponement. He argued that he hadn’t been given sufficient time to prepare the case with Kazungu. The prosecution acknowledged the right of the defense to adequate preparation time to ensure a fair trial.

Among the grave charges against Kazungu, including the murder of 14 people, is the crime of raping women before killing them and hiding their bodies in his residence. In September 2023, Voice of America reported this extraordinary case of violence attributed to Denis Kazungu.

In his initial hearing, Kazungu admitted to the crimes, stating he targeted mostly women, whom he would first assault and then kill, hiding their bodies in a pre-dug pit in his house. He claimed his motive was retribution for being infected with HIV. However, the RIB dismissed this claim, confirming after testing that Kazungu does not have HIV. The trial is set to resume early next month.