Parliamentary staffer Mushingwamana gets 10 years for rape

Evode Mushingwamana. Courtesy

Gasabo Intermediate Court on Tuesday, December 23 handed a ten-year jail sentence to Evode Mushingwamana, an accountant at Rwanda Parliament after he was convicted for rape.

Mushingwamana was also ordered to pay a fine of Rwf1 million.

Mushingwamana, who was suspended by parliament following a public outcry, was convicted for raping a 19-year Burundian refugee girl whom he had lured to his home and kept her there for days.

The convict also impregnated the victim who has since given birth.

Mushingwamana had initially denied knowledge of the victim but later, after a DNA test was carried out and confirmed his paternity of the child, he changed the story and said they had had consensual sex. 

He first met the victim in a restaurant where the latter worked and Mushingwamana lured her to his home with a promise of getting her a better job, only to rape her and later threw her out, with a pregnancy.

The case first came to light mid this year on social media after it emerged that the victim had tried to get the suspect brought to account, or at least support her through the pregnancy but with little success.

According to the victim (names withheld), when she tried to get support during the pregnancy, the suspect instead tried to kill her. 

She later found support from well-wishers until she gave birth.

The case would later go viral on social media, where several commentators called for the arrest and prosecution of Mushingwamana, who had all along remained in office until late last month.

Mutangana was Prosecutor General until late last month.

Twenty-seven days after Mutangana's tweet, the court has found Mushingwamana guilty of rape. The same voices that raised concerns on Twitter in November came back thanking Judiciary Rwanda for ensuring justice to the vulnerable Burundian refugee.

Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Juliette Karitanyi, one of the people who fiercely advocated for the prosecution of Mushingwamana, said that it may be too early to celebrate because the suspect - who remains out on bail - still has an opportunity to appeal against the verdict.

"He may appeal but we are confident the victim will eventually get justice because if he appeals, the higher court may even find the sentence lesser and increase it to 15 years in jail and 2 million in fine," Karitanyi said. 

Fifteen years is the maximum sentence for rape and according to activists, since there was no remorse on the part of the suspect or any mitigating factor, they are optimistic the upper court will give him a higher sentence, should he appeal.

Rwanda’s penal code stipulates that any person who is convicted of rape is liable to imprisonment for a term of not less than ten (10) years but not more than fifteen (15) years and a fine of not less than one million Rwandan francs (FRW 1,000,000) but not more than two million Rwandan francs (FRW 2,000,000).

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