Njombe. The family of Gaudence Kihombo, a disappeared seven-year old boy, has appealed for help to locate their beloved son. The boy went missing since January 6 in Njombe.
Gaudence’s mother Josephina Kihombo and grandmother Rehema Kipagate have asked the government to help bring Gaudence back home.
“There is nothing more painful than to live without knowing the whereabouts of your child, without knowing whether he is alive or not, that is why we appeal to authorities to help make sure that he returns home safe and sound,” said a tearful Josephine, when The Citizen visited her home at Ikando Village in Kichiwa Ward in Njombe Region.
According to Josephine, the abductions and killings of children in the region are connected to, among other things, revenge and witchcraft beliefs. She also appealed to community members, who have a clue on the whereabouts of her son, to volunteer information to authorities.
“This is very painful, it is better to see the body of my son, if they have killed him, rather than experience this kind of uncertainty,” she said.
Ten children are reported to have been brutally killed in suspected ritual killings in Njombe Region in just one month. Out of the ten, three are from the same family.
However, Gaudence’s grandmother believes that if police and other authorities had acted swiftly, the damage the perpetrators did would not have reached the level that the region is currently experiencing.
“I went to church on Sunday January 6 and left Gaudence at home. When I went back, he was nowhere to be seen, something which was unusual,” she said.
“I waited until 10pm, but he didn’t show up so I decided to report the matter to local authorities.”
Ms Rehema said she was told by some neighbours that her grandson left the house and headed for grazing areas with two other boys shortly after she had left for church.
“When we talked to the two boys, they said it was true that they were with him, but he had remained behind,” she explained.
“The following day we started to search for him in the areas they had indicated but we couldn’t find him.”
Ms Rehema said village leaders reported the matter at Makambako police station.“The police were in touch with the family for at least three days after we reported the matter but we haven’t heard from them since,” she said.
Efforts to reach the police for their reaction proved futile. However, speaking during the burial of three children from the family of Danford Nziku, Njombe District Commissioner Ruth Msafiri confirmed that Gaudence was still missing.
Since the brutal killings of Godliva Mwenda, 11, Gasper Nziku, 8, and Giliad Nziku, 5, from Mr Danford Nziku’s family, the authorities led by the deputy minister for Home Affairs, Mr Hamad Masauni, have camped in Njombe to coordinate the operation to track the perpetrators. Several arrests have been made in connection with the incidents.
The tragedy of the three children from the same family happened in the ongoing spate of killings of children in the southern highlands region of Tanzania.