Namibia:The Girl Whose Death Haunts the Nation


September 10, 2018 9:05 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Photo: The Namibian

A FAMILY’S SORROW … Avihe Cheryl Ujaha’s grandmother, Susanna Kaimu (above left), at the Katutura multi-purpose centre on Friday after the march in memory of her grandchild. Mother of deceased nine- year-old Avihe, Pekakarua Sylvia Kaimu (above right), could not hold back her tears as she watched her daughter’s casket being lowered into the grave at the Pionierspark Cemetery in Windhoek on Saturday.

THE murder of nine-year-old Avihe Cheryl Ujaha did not only anger ordinary people but hardened prisoners as well, who have pleaded with the murderer to surrender.

The little girl’s mutilated body was found dumped in bushes near Windhoek’s Staan Vas location two days after she went missing from her home in Katutura.

On Saturday, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, First Lady Monica Geingos and many other senior state officials attended her funeral at the Pionierspark Cemetery.

The burial was preceded by two memorial services, one at the child’s school – Gammams Primary School – on Wednesday and another at the After-school Centre in Grysblok, which was attended by inmates from the Windhoek Correctional Facility.

The prisoners were part of a group that works with Avihe’s grandfather, Seth Kaimu, in rehabilitation programmes.

In a moving tribute to Avihe, the 10 inmates led by Collin Swartbooi sang a song based on Revelation 21:4, that says: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.”

In his speech after the moving tribute, Swartbooi expressed sympathy to Kaimu and Avihe’s family, saying the “loss has deeply affected us and become our loss as well”.

“Do not feel discouraged and disappointed, have faith and continue to minister the word of God through which many of us came to know the Lord,” said Swartbooi.

Swartbooi said those who think of committing crimes should be aware that crime does not pay and that those responsible for Avihe’s death should surrender because the law will catch up with them eventually.

“To the perpetrator of this horrific crime, as offenders, some of us have gone through what you are going through now. We have committed crimes and tried to escape from the law and judiciary, but our guilty consciences haunted us, making us lose our peace of mind.

“You might escape man’s justice, but not God’s justice. Therefore, we urge you to come forth and surrender yourself wherever you are. This will heal you and bring back your inner peace and will also bring peace and healing to the bereaved family,” stated Swartbooi.

To drive his message home, he quoted from the Bible, saying: “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.”

Cynthia Kauami, who spoke on behalf of the family, described Avihe as a cheeky child whose name – meaning ‘All was created by God’ – was taken from a Herero hymn.

She said Avihe was a strong-willed, talkative child who loved singing and dancing, and dreamt of becoming a teacher.

Avihe, according to Kauami, had a close relationship with her father, Isaak, who regularly called her from the UK.

“She would stand in the mirror and speak of how she looked like her father,” said Kauami, adding that when she went missing, the family was anxious because she did not even have a warm garment.

Avihe’s favourite scripture, Cynthia said, was Psalm 23, ‘The Lord Is My Shepherd’.

“We were comforted that she might have recited that in her last moments. That was our consolation. May her soul rest in eternal peace,” said Kauami.

Charmaine Tjirare, also describing Avihe as a feisty girl, said the nation has failed and has become self-absorbed.

“If we don’t care about each other anymore, let this be a wake-up call.”

Tjirare is Avihe’s paternal aunt.

Gender equality minister Doreen Sioka also called on the perpetrators to surrender themselves, while the police have urged the public to assist with information.

Opposition leader McHenry Venaani, who also attended the memorial service, called on the culprit to surrender.

“Whoever you are, Namibians in unison are angry with you. Deliver yourself, for the interest of the family and the country, to the police,” he said.

NATION’S ANGER

Avihe’s grandfather Seth Kaimu, who led the burial proceedings, remembered the times when his granddaughter would always sit with him at church.

“After Sunday school, she would sit between grandpa and grandma. She was very serious about the things of God,” said Kaimu.

Poverty eradication minister, bishop Zephania Kameeta, reminded the mourners of how nothing could separate them from God’s love.

Ever since Avihe’s body was discovered two weeks ago on 28 August, many members of the public have visited her maternal home in Wanaheda, Katutura, to pay their respects.

Some good Samaritans and well-wishers donated money, food and even contributed towards funeral arrangements, while the police have through donations increased the reward money for information leading to the arrest of her murderer, from N$30 000 to N$100 000.

Several bikers associations, First Lady Monica Geingos, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi, as well as the official opposition leader, McHenry Venaani, among others, all visited the bereaved family.

The gender ministry, Unam and the information ministry organised a march that was attended by Geingos, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua and Windhoek mayor Muesee Kazapua along with hundreds others.

They retraced Avihe’s steps from Commando Hall to the multi-purpose centre and then to the spot where her body was found.

The police brass band led the marchers and then came Gammams Primary School pupils who were chanting: “We are the future, the mighty, mighty future!”‘ and “We are marching in the light of God!”

One of the marchers, Lazarus Doëseb, said he came to send a strong message that violence in society can no longer be tolerated.

“We are here to plead with the relevant authorities to make sure that the culprit/s are brought to book,” Doëseb said.

Another marcher, Daphene Mulokoshi, said she attended because she felt there is an urgent need for justice.

“Marching alone will not help, the government must take action by changing the policy,” Mulokoshi said.

Popular photographer, Martin Amushendje said the senseless killing touched his heart and he had to come to the march in support of the community.

“I believe in a united front against anything that destroys a community and also for the reservation of life and humanity in general,” Amushendje said.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the government was determined to ensure that the war against violence was not only tackled, but overcome.

“We shall spare neither efforts nor resources in pursuing this goal. We will strengthen the partnership forged with you, our society, to achieve the realisation of this most cherished goal,” she said.

The head girl of Gammams Primary School, Rocquell Cornelius, told the marchers that she lives with the fear of being kidnapped and raped, because she is vulnerable.

“Let me grow up and realise my goals, fulfil my purpose and let me be free in my motherland,” she noted.

Pastor Jennifer Moetie said she was planing to hold a conference on 15 September to address gender-based violence issues.

“We have to sit together with our boys and men and mentor and love them. Our children are not free anymore, so we have to stand together and fight and pray because justice needs to prevail.

“The event which has a different theme each year will focus on gender-based violence this year and will have an all red dress code to represent the blood of Jesus and the blood of innocent lives killed due to gender-based violence in our country.”

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