KIGALI - A Kigali-based Pentecostal church is embroiled in allegations of sexual assaults after one of its pastors, Charles Murenzi, has been accused of defilement.
Murenzi pastors at Shinning Light Church in Gaki-njiro.
His wife, Jolly Murenzi, is the church’s senior pastor.
The case has been brought to the attention of police.
An 18-year-old girl has claimed that she was sexually harassed by a senior pastor of Light Shining Church in Gakinjiro, Kigali.
The born-again Christian girl (names withheld) claims that Pastor Charles Murenzi, the deputy head of Light Shining Church, locked her up in his office and sexually harassed her in 2004. Murenzi is husband to Light Shining Church head pastor, Jolly Murenzi.
On Thursday, the girl reported the incident to the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) headquarters and recorded a statement with Rose Iribagiza, an assistant inspector of police in charge of gender based violence.
The girl said she was a member of the dancing group of the ‘World Changers’, of which Pastor Murenzi was the patron then. Some girls quit the church in protest.
The girl claimed that Murenzi is now trying to frame them up so that they ‘don’t tell the world what befell them.’
“On January, 23, 2004 I was going back to school but Pastor Murenzi invited me into his office to pray for me first. But instead he locked the door and grabbed me,” she alleged.
She went on: “He lifted me forcibly and put me on a desk in his office. He forced himself inside my thighs and after he told me to go and wash. That day, he only gave me Frw1, 000 after and told me to go to school.”
She was then 15 years old and going to school at Gahini, in Eastern Province.
She said that Murenzi assured her that God would solve all her problems. According to her, Murenzi allegedly used to promise the girls many other things to make their lives better.
“One day he said he was going to take many of us to America to live a decent life,” she alleged.
The girl dropped out of school after her Senior Four due to lack of fees. She said she is traumatized and now Murenzi has influenced the arrest of her colleague, Harriet Namusoke in an attempt to cover up.
Her former colleagues in ‘World Changers’ have since quit Murenzi’s church and joined the Healing Centre Church in Remera.
Efforts to speak to Murenzi were futile but his wife answered his cell phone on Thursday and dismissed the girl’s claims as careless and unfounded.
“Why is she accusing my husband after many years? I think it is not true because I stay with him and if that was the case, I should have known better,” Jolly Murenzi said
She said that she is ready to answer any questions on behalf of her husband.
Iribagiza said the girls’ accusations may be hard to prove since the alleged incident happened long ago and doctors could find it difficult to prove that the pastor raped her.
The girl’s mother, Assumpta Mico said she was happy that Murenzi’s ‘dirt is being exposed.’ Mico alleged that Murenzi used to quote the Bible for the girls before making his sexual advances.
“He used to tell them that if the Biblical greatest King David could sin how about a mere pastor. The girls used to regard him highly,” Mico said.
She added: “My daughter told me about those sexual harassments but you know it’s not only girls but even married women.”
On Wednesday, Commissioner General of Police Andrew Rwigamba said that investigations into the case would be launched.
“As we talk now they are still allegations which need to be substantiated,” Rwigamba said, adding that “all people involved will be questioned.”
The latest allegations come after a reported money fight between Maranatha Church pastors and threaten to damage the image of born-again churches.