5 December 2012

Tanzania: Street Children Suspected for Murder

A WEEK after remaining unidentified, the dead body of a white woman has finally been recognized as that of Ms Susan Wells, a 41-year-old Canadian volunteer with passion to work with and help Tanzanian Street children. She was found dead last week and is believed to have been murdered.

Joseph Kimaro, an alleged dissident youth that Ms Wells is reported to have been trying to assist, is currently being held by Police here as the principal suspect in the alleged murder.

Regional Police Commander Liberatus Sabas said here that the youth has not yet been questioned in connection with last week's killing of the Canadian woman. Police believe that there is a second suspect in the shocking crime.

But are the street children in Arusha capable of committing serious crimes such as murder? Mr Steven Ndossi, an officer at MS-Training Centre for Developmental Cooperation (TCDC), who has been working with underprivileged and homeless children for years, believes there must be some outside influence.

"Older people in Arusha usually use street children to commit crimes that they won't dare to try. They have been sending the unwitting youths to steal or even attack people on their behalf," said Mr Ndossi.

The child rights activist was of the view that, the police must extract the truth from the suspect in order to discover the real culprits behind the murder. Mr Innocent Kissanga, who works with Caucus for Children Rights (CCR) here, admits that street children can, indeed, turn hostile.

"Peer influence, use of alcohol and drugs and the fact that they always have a drive for 'revenge' against the community which neglects them can lead them to commit mayhem," he said. Mr Kissanga also pointed out that another driving force is the misguided belief that foreigners are always laden with money and that has been prompting some locals to attack and rob them.

Ms Wells, who had just jetted into Arusha laden with gifts and other educational materials for local children here, was later discovered dead at a remote farm in Terrat Division, South of Arusha City. Police officers here say that there was a deep wound on the victim's head.

They are investigating the source of the murder. The suspect, Kimaro, was arrested near Kilimanjaro International Airport on Monday and it is still not yet clear where he was heading to though some reports speculate that he could have been on the way to Mirerani (via the KIA junction) where most suspects love to hide.

It was Ms Wells' sixth trip to Arusha. The deceased is reported to have previously worked in the city as both volunteer and social worker, since 2008. This means she must have been conversant with the area and would not fall prey to strangers.

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