Alarm as Rufiji murders escalate

Thursday March 30 2017
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Dar es Salaam. Local government leaders in Rufiji and other parts of the Coast Region are relinquishing power in droves for fear of being killing following a series of cold blood murders that have left residents and their leaders terrified.

The latest killing of local government leader Emmanuel Ndindu by unknown gunmen has sparked fear and panic among public servants in Kibiti District, to the extent that many are quitting “before it is too late” The shooting to death of Mr Ndinhu, a member of Ikwiriri North Village government and chairman of the ruling CCM’s Mparange Branch brings to 11 the number of local government leaders killed in similar style in the past one year.

Most worrying is the fact that the killings appear to escalate even after the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ernest Mangu and Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba repeatedly promised to end the killings.

The murder of Mr Ndinhu comes a few weeks after assailants shot to death chairman of Kazamoyo hamlet Mr Hemed Njiwa. Soon after that, Mparange hamlet chairman Bakari Mpawane was shot and seriously injured.

An officer at Ikwiriri Ward Suleiman Mpangile told The Citizen that Mr Ndinhu was shot dead at his home shortly after he attended a meeting of CCM leaders at Ikwiriri on Tuesday.

According to Councillor for the ward, Mr Ally Mbwana, several local government leaders are relinquishing power in fear of their lives.

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CCM publicity secretary for Rufiji District Musa Nyeresa said a total of 11 local government leaders, all of whom came to power on the ruling party ticket, have been murdered since the beginning of the killings.

Reports from Kibiti District says the chairman and the village executive officer of Motomoto Village have also abandoned their work stations for fear of attacks.

Many other executives at Mjawa and Bungo wards in Kibiti District have abandoned their offices and homes and moved to safer places to avoid the gunmen.

Yesterday, Coast Regional Commissioner Evarist Ndikilo condemned the killings and banned the use of motorcycles from 6pm to 6am.

The killings local government leaders in parts of the Coast Region have been reported in the past two years. Fear escalated when unknown people went to the office and home of Bungu B Village and left fliers with messages detailing their plan to eliminate village and ward leaders.

Since then, many officials have abandoned the workplaces. They soon declined identifying themselves to anyone they were not familiar with.

Yesterday, a relative of the victim, Vitusi Matei Ndinhu, said the deceased was shot twice while opening the door to his house after attending a party meeting at Ikwiriri.

“The deceased was living alone. He arrived home around 1.30pm when he was shot twice, one bullet hit him in the ribs and another in the neck,” he said.

The assailant didn’t steal anything from the victim, but left leaflets with a message that local government leaders will remain targeted.

On January 19, a member of Nyambunda Village and a businessman Oswald Mrope was shot dead as his family watched, then the murderers set their victim’s body on fire using petrol.

On February 21, the head of criminal investigation department for Kibiti District, Mr Peter Kubezya, and a security guard at a checkpoint for protecting forest products, Mr Shabani Ngamba and Mr Peter Katundu who was collecting levies for the district were shot dead by unknown gunmen at Jaribu Mpakani, Mjawa Ward, Rufuji District.

The killers left a written warning in which they stated that they would continue with the killings in retaliation for injustices committed by the police in collusion with local government leaders.

“We will not tolerate such evils…we shall make sure everyone involved in oppressing wananchi is punished,” part of the chilling message read.