Kigali, February 9, 2024- The case of Denis Kazungu, who has been charged with the murder of 13 individuals, predominantly young women, has captured widespread attention both within Rwanda and internationally. Proceedings commenced in a Kigali court, where an emotional Kazungu admitted to the charges and sought forgiveness for his actions.
In September of the previous year, Kazungu was arrested following accusations of murdering people and burying them in a pit he excavated in the kitchen of his residence in Kanombe, a neighborhood in Kigali. This revelation has been one of the most shocking and widely discussed news stories in Rwanda.
During the trial, security measures in and around the courthouse were significantly heightened, and capturing images of Kazungu proved challenging.
Represented by attorney Faustin Bismarck Murangwa, Kazungu faced ten charges including murder, enforced sexual intercourse, torture, and robbing his victims before their deaths.
The prosecution detailed how Kazungu executed his crimes between 2022 and 2023, employing various deceitful strategies to lure his victims to his home. These strategies included offering to sell land or promising employment opportunities. Once the victims were at his residence, he would bind them and threaten to kill them unless they surrendered their money or had relatives send funds via phone transfer. The culmination of these horrifying acts was sexual assault followed by murder.
A few women managed to escape and provided crucial information leading to Kazungu’s arrest. Upon investigation, authorities discovered the bodies of 13 individuals in a pit at his rented residence. Among those he confessed to killing, there was one man; the rest were women.
When given the opportunity to speak, 34-year-old Kazungu confessed to the crimes without hesitation, expressing remorse and seeking leniency in his sentencing. He reiterated his apologies, particularly to the children who were orphaned and the parents who lost their children due to his actions.
The prosecution has requested a life sentence for Kazungu and a fine of 10 million Rwandan Francs, while the defense pleaded for a reduced sentence.
The final verdict is scheduled to be announced on March 8th of this year.
Additional information has emerged about Kazungu’s upbringing, revealing that he was raised by Colonel Jackson Rwahama Mutabazi, a retired high-ranking military officer. Furthermore, there were instances in Kazungu’s early education where he exhibited violent behavior, including bringing a gun to school.
Observers note efforts by influential figures to protect Kazungu and conceal his identity, likely due to the gravity of his crimes and public outcry, especially from those who lost loved ones. Despite suspicions of Kazungu not acting alone, definitive evidence linking others to the crimes or suggesting his affiliation with intelligence agencies for targeted killings or organ trafficking, leading to his psychological decline and subsequent murders, remains unproven.