Katutura's most foul murder
News - National | 2018-08-29
by Ndanki Kahiurika, by Theresia Tjihenuna
ABOUT three days after she went missing from her Katutura home, nine-year-old Avihe Cheryl Ujaha's mutilated body was found dumped in nearby bushes yesterday.
Police spokesperson Pendukeni Haikali said some body parts such as both hands, lower arms, one foot, ribs, one thigh and the neck were missing.
Haikali also said whoever killed Avihe could have boiled her body before dumping it about two kilometres from her home.
One of the five people who discovered the body yesterday morning said he, at first sight, thought Avihe's body looked like a "burned doll".
The man, who refused to give his name, also said some body parts were scattered not far from where the body was.
"I have never seen anything like this before. It looks like her mouth was also taped shut," the man said.
Another eyewitness said: "I first saw one foot, and then the rest of the body."
This eyewitness also said he noticed that the girl had braided hair and was not fully clothed.
A third witness told the crowd at the scene that he first thought it was some meat thrown away.
A resident, who also asked not to be named, said he usually drives on the same path where the body was found, but for some reason, he took another path yesterday.
"Our Namibia is sick. We need help seriously, for someone to do something like this," said the elderly man.
Although the body was found around 07h30, some of Avihe's family members rushed to the scene around 09h00 to find out whether it was their own.
Some police officers at the scene, however, turned the family members away because they were collecting some of the body parts. The area had also been closed off to the public.
After the body had been taken to the mortuary around 11h00, some family members went to check if it was not Avihe's. After the body was positively identified, police deputy commissioner Abner Agas officially announced the heartbreaking news.
The body was, indeed, that of Avihe's, a pupil at Gammams Primary School in Khomasdal.
When The Namibian visited the residence of Avihe's grandparents in Wanaheda yesterday afternoon, the family was waiting anxiously for news on whether the mutilated body found in the riverbed was that of the bubbly little girl they once knew.
"She was so bubbly, full of life, and such an intelligent girl for her age," her aunt Brutah Tjatjitwa remembered fondly, as they waited to hear the news that would change their lives forever.
"Yesterday morning at around 08h00, some police officers came to the house. The police said they had discovered a body which matches the description of Avihe after we reported her missing on Sunday," she said.
She added that at the time, the police were not certain that it was her body and they had to be certain while the family waited.
"The waiting was agonising. At first, they said they were sure it was her, then they said the body appeared to be that of an adult - the uncertainty was too painful and unbearable for us," said Tjatjitwa.
Four family members had gone to the mortuary to identify the body, while the rest of the family, including Avihe's mother, Pekakarua Kaimu, waited and prayed.
In just a matter of hours, they would hear the worst. Avihe, whose name means 'everything' in Otjiherero, and who dreamt of becoming a teacher and buying her mother a car one day, was confirmed dead in a riverbed near Staan Vas location in Katutura.
Police initially did not allow her family to come near her body as they searched for her missing limbs among the shrubs. They were only allowed to identify her at the mortuary.
"She lay there, calmly," her aunt Batseba Kaimu later told the media after returning from the mortuary and breaking the news to the rest of the family.
Kaimu is the principal at the Gammams Primary School, where Avihe was a pupil in Grade 3.
"She was a very smart learner. Always got diplomas, girl of her own will. She would always tell me that 'I'm going to work hard and I'm going to buy my mum a car and a house in town. She wanted to be a teacher," said Kaimu. Avihe was the second and younger daughter of her mother.
Avihe, who was born in the United Kingdom when her parents went abroad to work, returned with her mother to Namibia when she was only a few months old. Her father is expected to fly back to Namibia for her funeral this week.
Her death has left her family searching for answers.
"Who could have done this to her?" her aunt Tjatjitwa asked. "I believe the person who did this to her was known to her. Avihe never spoke to strangers."
Avihe's cousin, who was the last person to see her alive, said Avihe had informed her she was stepping out on Sunday afternoon at around 13h30.
"It was not unusual for Avihe to leave the house and go and play with her friends in the street. I did not think anything unusual about it at the time," said 19-year-old Tito Kahevita. She said that she was in the shower when Avihe announced that she was stepping out of the house.
"When she did not return home hours later, we started searching. We went from house to house, asking if anyone had seen her," said Kahevita, who broke down in tears.
Agas said the scene where the body was found was not the murder scene.
"It is a terrible, horrific crime. We appeal to the public to help in search of the culprit," said Agas.
A city police officer told The Namibian off the record that they have no surveillance in the area because it is one of the locations that are not prioritised, although this does not mean it is not important.
"This is an area where crime does not happen often. This is the first of its kind in this area," said the officer.