Police pounce on ‘secret den’ in Sumbawanga - OFFICIALFEMA BLOG

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Police pounce on ‘secret den’ in Sumbawanga

KICHANGANI Street at Chanji area of Sumbawanga municipality, Rukwa region turned into a battle field when anti-riot police went to battle with mobs threatening to kill tenants of one of the houses along the street.

In the ensuing fracas, the anti-riot squad was compelled to use tear-gas to scare off and disperse the irate invaders, but they were a shade too late because the thugs had already razed down a modern house within the precincts, accusing its occupants of allegedly stealing ten boys and ‘secretly’ keeping them locked indoors for over two weeks.

Armed with crude weapons – mainly pieces of construction blocks – the mob smashed the windows and reduced to rubble another structure of a facility under construction in front of the targeted house.

The fracas lasted nearly five hours beginning around 3: 00 pm, leaving a trail of havoc along the street and its neighbourhoods.

Earlier, efforts by security organs who had arrived at the scene proved futile as they faced defiant residents who vowed to run down the entire house, and it was at that juncture that the law enforcers lobbed tear-gas canisters into the air.

Several neighbours and eyewitnesses alleged that the minors – all of them boys aged about ten years – were alleged to have been “stolen and kept indoors” clandestinely, ostensibly to undergo ‘Islamic’ teaching.

Rukwa Regional Police Commander George Kyando (pictured below) confirmed during an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’ over the phone yesterday that about ten boys -- the oldest being 15 years old and the youngest believed to be four years old -- were being kept ‘indoors secretly’ by people who identified themselves as sheikhs.

According to the RPC, all the boys were said to have been ‘recruited’ from Namansi Village along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika within Nkasi district of Sumbawanga region.

But the RPC declined further details on the identity of the suspects for fear of tampering with the ongoing investigations, only confirming that five people, among them two women, had since been arrested and were still being “grilled” by police officers.

According to impeccable sources, three of the suspects are believed to be male sheikhs, helped by two women serving as cooks – all from Mwanza region.

The whistle blower also identifies one Sheikh Khalifa Shaban as the ‘ring-leader’ and the man who rented the house is believed to have come from Kigoma region while ‘another sheikh’ was believed to have come from Zanzibar, all of whom were joined by a local leader from the village of Namansi in Nkasi district.

The RPC says the suspects will face several charges, including one of ‘obstructing’ the minors from attending formal school and keeping them indoors without the consent of their parents or guardians.

“… I’m now on my way to the village (Namansi) to interrogate the children’s parents … we’re also investigating if there are girls being kept ‘secretly’ in a separate house … we need to find out that one … yet,” the RPC added.

A local leader at Kichangani Street, Ms Anne Mwanakulya, said the events started unfolding when three children from the house went to a nearby hotel to break their fast, and while there, the hotelier – one Mama Salome -- recognized one of the kids.

“Mama Salome recognized one of them as ‘the child of her younger sister’ who had been reported missing several days before … she identified him as Bahati, aged four … Mama Salome says his father was the one who brought the boy to ‘the house’ from Namansi Village but his mother did not know his whereabouts,” Ms Mwanakulya narrated..

The street chairman, Mr Philip Mwanandenje, says Mama Solome then alerted him over the matter, and he, in turn, reported the matter to the “relevant organs for further determinations.”

A cross-section of residents still remains bent on “destroying the house” to serve as a lesson for “others still itching to commit similar offences.”

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