Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

17 December 2012

Tanzania: Hopeful Theresa's Life Shattered By Night Assailant

Photo: Talea Miller/Flickr
Goverment urged to protect rights of the disabled.

MS Theresia Mariki, aged 32 has become armless. One fateful night a ghostly stranger sneaked into her house and chopped off her arms. Judging from slashes on her head and back, the mysterious had meant to kill Theresia for reasons that still, four years later, remain unknown.

"I was only 27 when the incident occurred. My husband, Mr Mariki Maronda, was away, having travelled to Arusha," said Theresia ,who from her facial expression, is still very bitter. The bitterness comes from the memory of her glorious form just previous to the fateful night of February 2008 attack. The young lady was a beautiful specimen of humanity in Ololosokwan Village. She had a successful restaurant business that she ran herself.

Her husband worked as a gardener at Kleins Camp, a tourist facility operating under the 'And Beyond,' chain of luxury lodge. However, when the disaster struck, Mr Maronda had just been laid off , compelling him to travel to Arusha to follow up on his terminal benefits at the company headquarters.

Theresia's restaurant was in the same building where her home was, which means it was easy for one of her customers who turned into 'killer' to sneak from the parlour into the house unnoticed. Mr Leina Elikana, currently serving a seven-year jail sentence, was not only a customer at Theresia's food joint but had also previously worked with her husband at 'And Beyond,'before he quit the job.

Elikana started patronizing the food joint frequently and on the day of the attack he turned up late, shortly before closure and pretended not to have enough change on him. "I will bring the money tomorrow," he told Theresia, after ordering some snacks and a bottle of soda.

"I didn't doubt Elikana, because my husband knew him well, besides his brother was also a familiar person," said Theresia. The 'killer' was the last customer at the joint and as the lady got busy closing down, Elikana somehow managed to slip into the adjacent house.

With her husband away, Theresia asked a local girl, one Eliza Onambo to stay with her at home that night. They were fast asleep when the lady heard some commotions in the living room. She woke up and went to investigate only to come face to face with a menacing silhouette of man carrying a sword.

Letting out a scream she rushed back into the bedroom where a kerosene lamp helped her catch a glimpse of the attacker before the first blow swept her entire arm away. "What do you want? What have I done? Why are you attacking me?" Theresia screamed at the 'killer,' to which Elikana allegedly replied; "Nothing personal, just sent to kill you," then he unleashed a second blow which rendered the poor lady unconscious.

The young girl, Eliza, who witnessed the entire episode screamed as she rushed to seek help outside, this somehow saved Theresia's life because the attacker rushed out before people came to help. The village did turn up a few minutes later and fished the unconscious Theresia from a pool of blood, thinking she was dead but upon arriving at Wasso Hospital, doctors found her breathing and treatments began.

Five years later, Theresia's life has been shattered. After the sad fate reduced her into a total dependant her husband too abandoned her. Mr Samuel Nangiria, who works with the Loliondo-based, Ngorongoro Non-Government Organization Network (NGONET), says Theresia is now staying at the Usa-River disabled centre in Meru District, but the community of Loliondo wants to help her get fitted with artificial limbs.

"It will cost over 25m/- but we intend to conduct a fundraiser," said Mr Nangiria. Theresia will have to pay a monthly wage of 20,000/- to a young lady known as Noela Zacharia as an aid to wash, feed her and receive phone calls for her. The armless woman also has to pay rent and buy food.

At times still, she goes without food the whole day. "We depend on alms from good Samaritans, but when they don't show up, there will be nothing to eat that night," said Noela. With both her parents dead and the only brother with a strange illness at Mang'ola village in Karatu, Theresia has to face the tough world alone and armless as she is and with occasional alms.

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