25 August 2023

Cause of British rapper’s death in Brazil cannot be determined – coroner

25 August 2023

A coroner has ruled it is not possible to determine how a British rapper found near the sea in Brazil died after local police said he killed himself.

Kenny Mukendi, 22, had been driven in a taxi to a viewing spot high above the sea before he went missing, an inquest into his death has heard.

The rapper went missing in Rio de Janeiro after he left a recording studio and deactivated his Instagram and Facebook accounts.

An ex-girlfriend in the UK had “broken his heart” and, in 2017, the rapper, had told his parents he was going to Brazil because he “needed to take a break and go away”, the inquest heard.

He did not want to return to London until his music career was a success

Mukendi, also known as Kenny Vulcan, had featured as an extra in high-profile music videos and in JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

A backpack containing his possessions was found on a beach by a surfing instructor near where he had last been seen, and his body was found nearby some days later.

He had travelled to the South American country to boost his music career, and did not want to return until he had succeeded, the inquest heard.

Brazilian police believe Mr Mukendi took his own life by jumping into the sea, but a coroner concluded it had “not been possible” to determine how Mr Mukendi died.

Mr Mukendi’s father, Ken, told the inquest at London Inner South Coroner’s Court, Southwark, his son had been “born albino”, and was “very talented in music”.

Mr Mukendi was a final year, performing art student who had been living with his parents in the Thamesmead area of south-east London, the inquest was told.

The rapper, who had been to Brazil before, began working as a model and wanted to boost his music career while in the country, the inquest heard.

At the time of his disappearance, he was living with his new girlfriend, Renata Lima, and her family, the inquest was told.

In April 2018, Mr Mukendi spent the evening in a recording studio where he was also due to spend the night.

He later ordered an Uber to take him on the 20-minute journey to Mirante Do Roncador, a viewing point high above the sea and rocky coast, the inquest heard.

The beauty spot, west of Rio de Janeiro, was close to a “far away beach where nobody goes” known as “Secret Beach”, Mr Mukendi’s father said in a statement read to the inquest.

When Ms Lima tried to contact him the following day, she found his phone was switched off and his Instagram and Facebook accounts had been deactivated, the inquest was told.

He was reported missing, and Mr Mukendi’s father travelled to Brazil to help with the search for 15 days.

Later that month, Mr Mukendi’s black backpack containing his laptop, passport and other possessions was found by a surfing instructor on a beach close to where he had been dropped off by the taxi, the inquest heard.

On May 5, a body was found on rocks nearby, and DNA analysis carried out in the UK later confirmed the body was that of Mr Mukendi, the inquest was told.

Giving her conclusion, assistant coroner for Inner South London, Fleur Hallett, said Mr Mukendi had in 2017 “recently broken up with his girlfriend and wanted a change”.

She continued: “He did not want to return to London until his music career was a success.”

Brazilian police concluded Mr Mukendi had taken his own life, the inquest heard, but Ms Hallett recorded an open conclusion because it had “not been possible to determine how Mr Mukendi came by his death”.

A post-mortem examination found “no evidence of foul play,” the inquest heard.

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