Shalom Isimbi Uwase, doted on as Bella, was only 12 years old. But the joys and hopes that the second-last born of eight siblings held for the family is no more. It was all snatched from the family by Sylveri Mahoro, their houseboy of 14 years.
Bella liked Mahoro and was upset that he had been sacked for his unbecoming manners. Yet it was Bella that Mahoro waylaid in the family compound, gagged with one hand and proceeded to slit by the throat.
Bella’s brother Olivier Iryamukuru was in the living room when he had muffled voices near the garage. What he saw was more than shocking. Mahoro was working the knife on the throat of Bella, with blood oozing. The killer fled the scene on seeing Iryamukuru, leaving a gory sight and the dying Bella.
Iryamukuru made for the family car but it was a dead end. Outside the gate, passersby joined him in finding a Good Samaritan to help rush Bella to hospital. But the last he heard of his beloved sister was her head on his lap, her pleas that he saves her. That was Wednesday.
At Mujiji Musafiri’s home in Nyamirambo, Nyarugenge District, yesterday, holding back a tear was in itself a hard thing. The manner of the killing chalked up the grief as all that one gets on visiting the home are wails of women and sobs of men.
The compound is crowded, some men are trying to erect a tent, and school children are hanging over each other as camera crew film narrations from neighbours, friends and eyewitnesses.
It is hard to find someone to recount the ordeal and Bella’s last moments amid the grief. Iryamukuru is still dazed by the events of the past evening as The New Times approached him. But he is willing to share his account of the killing.
“Wednesday 26, started as a normal day in our home. Everyone went about their business including Bella (as she was fondly called) who left for school at Ecole de Science Anglais Francais (ESCAF) (also in Nyamirambo),” Iryamukuru narrated.
He went on: “I hadn’t left for lectures at Bridge2Rwanda when the houseboy beat our last born who is only two years old. My mother who had gone to the hospital to check on a patient came back and the neighbours reported to her about how Mahoro harasses our last born.
Later, my mother told Mahoro that he had consulted our father and a decision had been reached to relieve him of his services. Our parents weren’t home at the time when the tragedy occurred.
But Mahoro, who comes from Gikonko Sector in Gisagara District, did not leave immediately. He stayed around the whole day until Bella returned from school at 5pm. Bella was so fond of Mahoro that when he told her that he had been fired, it’s the first thing she asked me when I got back home from school at around 6pm. “Kuki murenganya Mahoro?” (loosely translated as ‘why do you falsely accusing Mahoro?’) she had asked. I ignored her and proceeded to watch BBC news.
All this while, Sylveri was still around, he would either be at the gate or in the parking yard. He lay in wait for our elder sister, Illuminée Mutamuliza, because if he had wanted to kill Bella, he would have done it during the day when she was at home alone. Bella came to watch TV with me in the sitting room but I told her to go and revise since she was doing exams and that’s when she told me that she had no pen. I gave her money to go and buy a pen at the shops.
Mahoro was standing at the gate when Bella went to the shop. When my elder sister came back from school, she asked Mahoro why he was still around. Mutamuliza had arrived from school in the company of a friend, so Mahoro had no chance of attacking her. Unfortunately, Bella was alone. He hid around the car in the parking yard and waited to attack Bella.
When Bella walked past the gate, he grabbed her, covered her mouth with his palm and started slitting her neck with a knife. I heard muffled noises from the sitting room and ran outside to see what was going on. As soon as Mahoro saw me, he dropped her down and fled through a small gate that opens from the backside.
Olivier, ntabara ndapfuye” (Olivier, help me I am dying) is what she continuously told me as I scampered to lift her up. I tried to start the car but it had a mechanical problem. I immediately carried her outside and started stopping everyone asking for help. A neighbour who was driving home put us in his car but you could see that she wouldn’t make it.
I placed her head on my laps as I tried to reach my other siblings. My sister had already informed my parents and they were en-route to the hospital. She died in my hands half-way through the journey near Cosmos (a local pub).”
Iryamukuru described her late sister as a very kind and well-behaved child. “I’m not saying good words about her because she is gone or because she is my sister. Ask anyone around, they will tell you the same. I’m just hurt by the fact that she had to go through so much pain,” he said. Mahoro is still at large.
Roselyn Uwera, Bella’s playmate, described the late as a fun-loving girl with whom they shared the same passion.
“Yesterday, I returned from school and played a bit with Bella before she went back home at around 6pm. She was always good to me and other children my age. I remember her sharing what she had and helping me do homework,” Uwera said.
One of her former teachers, Chantal Umuliza, described Bella as an intelligent and brilliant child.
“She was always organised in class and worked hard. It is sad to see such a young life taken away in such a manner. She didn’t deserve it,” she said with tears flowing from her eyes.
The mood is tense and people haven’t recovered from the shock; not of a young girl dying but the manner in which her death was executed.