TSUMEB – Around 200 Tsumeb residents took to the streets on Tuesday to express their outrage and dismay over the brutal murder and rape of 42-year-old Martha Gaeses in Nomtsoub over the weekend.
The deceased mother of three was found stark naked after she was brutally raped by unknown suspects who later killed her by stabbing her more than thirty times around the chest, neck and shoulders. Her mutilated body was discovered by the police last Thursday morning.
Demonstrators appealed to police to step up night patrols around crime-ridden dark spots in the township and to reduce the number of gambling machines at the town.
The deceased allegedly hit the jackpot, winning about N$2 000 which reportedly attracted her unidentified killers to stalk her after she left the gambling house, with the intention to relieve her of her winnings.
It is not known what transpired after she was attacked since her killers are still at large. Sources say eight used condoms were found at the scene of the crime, leading investigators to believe that more than one attacker was involved.
The demonstrators who gathered near the town’s police station spoke on a rotational basis without handing over any written petition to the police and regional councillor and Tsumeb mayor, who were all present during the demonstration.
The emotionally charged demonstrators, comprising mostly of tearful women and children, minced no words when demanding that police comb every inch of the informal settlements such as Kuvikuland and Omutuli in search of the perpetrators whom they believe are sheltered there.
“We are giving birth to monsters who target their own mothers by raping and killing them and worst of all, they are given bail and walk the streets while we spend thousands to bury our beloved ones,” charged one demonstrator.
The town’s mayor, Linekeela Sheetekela, said the authorities are negotiating to transform the sub-police station at Nomtsoub (November station) into a fully-fledged police station aimed at boosting police reinforcement in the township.
“We are hard at work to map out strategies to address the rampant killings at the town. However, we cannot announce our plans at this stage in order not to alert criminals of our action. The situation is critical – therefore both the community and police should unite around the move to resist criminal forces,” explained the mayor.
Many people welcomed the announcement to upgrade the ‘November’ station, arguing that more police officers should in fact be promoted to higher ranks in the process.
The Tsumeb Constituency Councillor, Lebbeus Tobias, on his part stressed that criminals at the town are disrespecting and infringing on the constitutional rights of other citizens to move freely irrespective of the time of the day.
Tobias said he was impressed by the unity of purpose displayed by the residents of Tsumeb who turned out in huge numbers irrespective of their ethnicity to express their anger over the killing.
“Tsumeb is a place for all of us and we should stand together when condemning these types of barbaric acts by criminals. Today it is you but tomorrow it may be us, therefore we should unite and speak with one voice,” said Tobias.
Another speaker urged women to resist from becoming night “revellers” but instead to devote more time to their children after sunset.
“Our women are at times putting their lives at risk by gambling until late at night, while others are in shebeens and bars enjoying life with their male counterparts unsuspecting of the agendas the male folks harbour for them after the drinking spree.”
She called upon women to put their safety first and not to compromise their lives by indulging in alcoholic freebies, since the nature of most men is predominantly geared towards demanding sexual favours in return for alcoholic offerings.
“I am not referring to the case in question but simply reflecting on the reality on the ground. Women are also forced to gamble to sustain their families because men fail to support their children. Our appeal to the mayor is to allocate jobs to local women first before considering migrants to Tsumeb, so that we can feed our children and families, instead of hanging around gambling machines at night,” she said.
Some men who joined the demonstration insisted on forming a community watch group to assist police in the fight against crime at the town. They said it was a disgrace to observe innocent women falling prey to their own sons and husbands.
They threatened to take the law into their own hands should police neglect their duty to patrol their neighbourhoods and to safeguard the lives of innocent women and children at the town.
“This is the second murder committed in this one family, one after another, but no culprit has been apprehended to date. If the status quo continues we will ransack the shacks in our own way and deal with those criminals whom we believe are coming from other towns,” one demonstrator threatened.
Police sources at the town who spoke on condition of anonymity told New Era that armed criminals are operating in syndicates making it difficult to arrest them in the shortest possible time due to the vastness of the region.
Police however are said to have established a partnership with their counterparts in other regions to monitor hospital admissions and to report suspicious patients with gun and knife wounds immediately.
Police believe one or more of the suspects may have sustained injuries when they overpowered the deceased since bloodstains were traced and followed to a certain destination in Nomtsoub, although the trail did not lead to an arrest.
Police have launched a high-powered investigation and a manhunt to apprehend the persons responsible for the death of Gaeses.
The family of the deceased announced funeral arrangements for the late Gaeses who will be laid to rest at the town (Tsumeb) on Saturday.