18 February 2013

Uganda: No Clues Yet On Murder of Maid, Baby

On Friday February 8, Byaruhanga and his wife, both bankers, left for work as usual. In the evening, they returned home to a chilling scene when they found their one year- old baby and housemaid dead. Despite all attempts, there is no clue so far as to what could have triggered the gruesome murder.

They wrote on the wall using a marker: "LEAVE MY HUSBAND ALONE, NYABO". By the time the assailants left, the home of Solomon Byaruhanga and Phiona Wanzusi in St. Anni Zone, Kabowa, Rubaga, Kampala, was the grisly murder scene of one-year-old Shawn Byaruhanga and a housemaid.

Little Shawn's body had cuts in the chest and stomach, leaving his intestines peeking out; the eyes almost plucked out of their sockets. The body of the 17-year-old maid, who had worked for the family for a month, was found on the sitting room floor with eight stab wounds - twice in the head, on the right-hand side of the chest, and four times in the abdomen. There were signs that she desperately tried to struggle, evident by the bloody footmarks on the floor towards the exit, but the assassins overpowered her.

Two weeks later, the Police say they have not yet got any clues to establish the motive of the murder or even track down the killers. Baby Shawn was butchered like an animal.

The fateful day:

On Friday February 8, Byaruhanga, who works with Barclays Bank and Phiona, a banker with Standard Chartered Bank, left for work as usual. Phiona left early in the morning, while Byaruhanga left at around 12:00pm. But that evening when they returned, they were treated to a deafening silence. And after waiting for some time at the gate, they decided to open it themselves.

The small gate, which was usually locked, was open. They drove into the compound, thinking the maid was watching TV, but even after they parked, no one came out of the house. The main door to the house looked open. The couple went into the sitting room and lying on the carpet, was their maid dead.

Panicking, the couple started frantically looking for their son. In the bathroom, they found their one year- old son lifeless.

Too shocked, the couple let out a wild scream that attracted neighbours.

Neighbour's account:

According to a neighbour, the house was often visited by people who collect rubbish and check water or power bills. On the fateful day, the neighbour says, strangers arrived at the home and knocked at the gate. He adds that they were wearing grey and khaki overalls and looked like Umeme employees. "I could hear the maid asking who they were and then they told her to move over to the gate. At the gate, she talked to the men, who after convincing her that they had come to check on the utilities, let them in," the neighbour says. Unknown to her, these were killers.

The home has a high wall and it is hard for neighbours to know what is going on inside. A Police source on the investigations team says the killers could have gained entrance into the house at around 1:00pm. Once inside the compound and with the gate firmly closed behind them, the killers then convinced the maid to take them inside the house. Once inside, they pounced on the maid.

A maid in the neighbourhood says she had screams and called out to the Byaruhangas' maid. "When I called out her name, a voice answered that there was nothing wrong." Convinced that her neighbour was okay, she went about her business. Detectives believe that when the maid let out a call for help, the killers immediately strangled her to stop her from making any more alarms.

When they were done with their mission, the murderers took time off to write on the wall, just below Byaruhanga's wife's portrait. They left with a DVD player and a flat screen TV. "I saw people walk out, but service providers would normally come in and fix either water or read the meter, so it was not strange seeing people walk out," says a neighbour who sells chapatti near the home.

The writing on the wall:

The Police are taking the warning written on the wall seriously. Tumwine says they have asked Byaruhanga and Phiona if they can think of anyone close to them who could have engineered the attack. Both parents are being treated as key witnesses and the Police believe they could have vital information which, if pieced together, would help unravel the mystery.

The Police say the writing could either mean that there is another lady in the picture who was jealous of Phiona or that somebody married suspected the mother of the child to be sleeping with her man.

The Police is, however, not ruling out the possibility that the writing could be a distraction and that these could have been thieves, but when they failed to find what they wanted, opted to kill the maid for fear that she would raise an alarm. For now, both parents are still dealing with the trauma and the Police is leaving nothing to chance.

Police still stuck:

The Police was immediately called in and sniffer dogs tried to trail the assailants. However, they reached the main road and stopped, an indication that the killers could have got onto a boda boda or vehicle.

The Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID) boss, Katwe Police Station, Herbert Wanyoto, says they are still trying to establish the motive behind the murder. Jackson Tumwine, the Kampala South Regional CIID boss, says they are inviting the public to give them clues that will help them track down the killers.

Despite recording statements from a neighbour's housemaid who heard some wails, what they have has not provided any concrete clues. Geoffrey Musana, the deputy director, CIID, has since been co-opted into the team to help in the investigations.

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