When she received a call from an unknown man with a promise of a ‘decent job’, Akimana (not her real name) thought she had hit a jackpot. That was sometime in mid-June this year.
Earlier, she had posted on her WhatsApp status that she was jobless and searching for a job.
Akimana said: “This man called promising to link me up with a business person who would give me a job. I asked about his identity since I didn’t know him and he told me he was called Kazungu.
“Then I asked him: ‘How did you get my number?’ and he told me that he did not remember the person who gave him my number. I said I could not meet a stranger and, as such, we had to first get to know each other.”
Despite the man’s persistent calls, Akimana refused to go and meet him. Two days passed and Kazungu was still calling, and chatting her up using the social media app WhatsApp.
On the third day, he initiated a WhatsApp video call. They talked and, seeing his face, her feeling of fear and uneasiness ebbed. It is at this point that she even decided to meet him physically.
“Considering how he looked, I agreed to meet. I told him that I would go meet him when free so that he could tell me about the job offer. A week later, I called him and asked if we could meet. He said that was okay.”
“I told him that I was in Remera and, since I didn’t know his location I would ask him to give directions to a taxi-moto rider. Around 6 pm I found a taxi-moto. I met him [Kazungu] in Busanza. He bought me a drink and we talked. But when I realised that it was getting late I asked about my job offer. That’s the moment when he said that it was his boss who was actually offering me the job.
“I asked where his boss was and he said, ‘my boss is at home – he is busy.’ I told him that I couldn’t go home with him but would come back when the boss was around. Then he told me that his boss was very busy and assured me that he was actually very nearby. So, I agreed that we go and see the boss.”
The house was actually not far from the neighborhood bar where they initially met. While Kazungu had only sipped on a soda, Akimana had taken three bottles of Petit Mutzig. Once they got to his house, at around 20hrs30, Kazungu still behaved as a good host.
But things changed so fast the moment she stepped into the house, a secluded residence in Gashikiri Village, in Busanza Cell, Kicukiro District.
“When I entered he told me to feel at home. The house looked scary but considering the conversation we had, I thought he was a good person since no one had ever invited me and abused me.
“But, suddenly, he started verbally insulting me in a very disgraceful manner. He ordered me to put everything I had down. I said, ‘dear, what’s wrong?’ and he slapped me hard. I noticed that the situation had changed and I kept quiet. I handed over my Samsung phone, ID, bag, passport, Rwf10,000, and my house key.
“He ordered me to remove my boots. He checked them, and then I removed my clothes too. After checking all my belongings, he told me to lie down so he could rape me. I pleaded for mercy but he grabbed me by the neck and choked me. I gave up struggling and let him have his way.
“Once he was finished I thought that he was going to let me go, but he did not. He went into a room and returned with cables. Since he had roughed and strangled me I could not speak easily and was bleeding from the nose and mouth. I asked him to give me water but he refused. He kept on insulting me. He sat me on a chair and tied my legs and arms with an electric cable. I pleaded with him and asked ‘Kazungu why are you doing this to me?’ Have I ever wronged you, what’s the problem?”
Her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Kazungu then ordered Akimana to reveal her phone password as well as Equity Bank account password. She was surprised to realize that he knew about her bank account but she was not thinking clearly by then.
“I had about Rwf130,000 on the Equity account. I don’t know where he put the money. By then I had no access to anything. He inquired about how much I had on mobile money and I told him Rwf15,000. Then he inquired about Mo-Kash and I told him I had nothing there.”
Kazungu grabbed her phone and ordered her to tell him all the women she knew who had money. When she said she knew none, he started listing contacts on her phone.
“I was praying to God so that he would do whatever he wanted and let me go. I knew I was in danger.”
Kazungu would often go to a room and stay there for long. She couldn’t tell what exactly he was doing there but she was sure he was, among other things, making calls.
“He warned me not to utter a word lest he gagged me. He spent nearly an hour on the phone talking to people. Eventually, I asked him to come and we talk but he abused me again and I remained silent. I begged him to untie me so that I could ease myself. He refused and told me to do it where I was. So, I just did it. I had no option.”
At around midnight, she recalled, her captor untied her, led her into what looked like a bedroom, and tied her up again.
This time, he enquired about what she owned back in her house. He took note of everything.
The next day, in the morning, Akimana hoped she would be set free. But it was not to be.
Kazungu made it clear that he would let her go on one condition; she had to give him Rwf2 million. The problem is that she did not have that kind of money.
Akimana was tasked to call her landlord and say whatever her captor wanted her to say. Kazungu wanted her to introduce him to her landlord so that he could send someone over to pick up all her valuables.
All the while, he kept talking to someone – or some people – on the phone.
In the meantime, whenever the phone calls distracted him, Akimana would slowly loosen the cables tying her hands and legs. She recalls overhearing Kazungu “tell someone that he has a task for him, and this person replied, angrily, saying he would ‘never again get involved in your mischief’.”
Kazungu hurled insults at the man and hang up.
Kazungu called the second, third, and fourth person, getting the same negative response. His fury was rising.
On the fifth call, Kazungu said: “Don’t you people understand the nature of your assignment?’ You are going to pick some things for me from Remera and bring them here, at home, and I will pay you Rwf100,000.
From what Akimana could gather, the person on the line said “if it is something that won’t take me long, let me get a bike and come over.”
“All that while, I was still trying to slowly untie myself as I waited for that person to come. I thought that this man [Kazungu] had assaulted me, robbed me of all my belongings and once everything else was taken, he wouldn’t let me go. Then, suddenly, I heard the other person announce his arrival. He asked Kazungu to come out and pay the taxi-moto.”
By then, it was sometime in the afternoon.
And that was her chance to escape.
The thought of being seen by people, while totally naked, and running, crossed her mind. But she didn’t care. Her life was at stake.
“I started quietly heading towards the door.”
Kazungu was now outside on the other side of the house, talking to his contact – or delivery man – and the taxi-moto rider.
“I heard him [Kazungu] asking for the taxi-moto’s number. I couldn’t shout for help for I was scared he would catch me. I started running.”
While running, she heard stunned people saying they saw ‘a mad woman running,’ but I couldn’t say a word, fearing he would come after me.”
In the first home she ran to, Akimana found young children alone. She decided that they couldn’t protect her if her captor found her in the house with the kids.
She continued running.
“I ran to another home and found a heavily pregnant woman who was shocked to see me. It was in the afternoon. I banged the main door shut and ran inside her room, begging her to not speak and reveal my presence there. She asked what was wrong with me. I said I was not mad. I asked her to just look at the way I had been tied and my appearance. I said I would explain everything later.”
A while later, after catching her breath, drinking a few cups of water, and seemingly settling down, she told the woman everything and requested to see local leaders in the area.
When the local leaders arrived, she recounted her nightmare to them. Akimana is not sure which local leaders they were exactly. But she recalls that about three men interrogated her. They also called and talked to Kazungu, on the phone. The latter claimed that he was actually searching for Akimana as well. He told them that she was a friend. Asked why she was found naked, with signs of being tied up and assaulted, “Kazungu said that ‘I tied her because she had refused to give me what I want’.”
“I narrated everything to them and they gave me a letter that I took to the RIB station in Kanombe.”
Akimana showed The New Times a letter inscribed by a detective in Kanombe sector requesting Kanombe Military Hospital to examine her and file a medical report.
The letter indicates that the victim – Akimana – arrived at Kazungu’s home on June 27, and escaped on June 28. It states that she had been physically abused – strangled, tied with cables, and injured on her neck and cheeks.
While Akimana managed to escape, several women – believed to be more than 10 – did not get that chance. Last week, police found several women had been killed and thrown in a hole that Kazungu had dug in the outside kitchen of his rented house.
The suspect, whose full name is Dennis Kazungu, 34, is currently in custody and RIB has since transferred his file to prosecution where he could face a littany of charges, including premeditated murder.