By Athuman Mtulya
Dar es Salaam — The saga of seven human bodies found floating at the Ruvu River yesterday took a new turn after a Cabinet minister alleged that they were bodies of undocumented immigrants from Ethiopia.
The Minister for Home Affairs Mwigulu Nchemba told a local TV station yesterday morning that preliminary investigations have shown that the bodies were of Ethiopians who might have been dumped in the river in Bagamoyo District in the Coast Region for one reason or other.
Six bodies of unidentified men were discovered by locals in Makurunge Village floating in the river on Wednesday. The bodies of men aged approximately between 25 and 35 were covered in polythene bags fitted with rocks. The seventh body was discovered in the same spot on Friday.
And while it is true that illegal immigrants are normally transported in the most inhumane ways and while they are usually left behind when they fall sick or die on the way, it was still too early to establish with certainty that the bodies dumped in the river were those of Ethiopians, the Coast Regional Police Commander Bonaventure Mushongi told The Citizen yesterday.
“We are the ones that briefed Mr Nchemba on the matter. And yes, it is highly possible that the deceased were illegal immigrants but that has not been firmly established so far,” RPC Mushongi said.
Although the bodies were badly decomposed, there were traces that the deceased were of Kushite ancestry, according to RPC Mushongi.
According to him, after the last body was retrieved, police searched a nearby forest and discovered a group of 81 abandoned Ethiopian illegal immigrants.
“They were all in bad shape, they were abandoned for days without food or water.
“They said they were smuggled into the country by sea, and that’s possible because there are illegal ports in the nearby area,” he said adding, “Human traffickers are known for their cruelty, and perhaps when they discovered of the deaths they decided to wrap the dead in bags with rocks and toss them into the river hoping they might not be found.”
The Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa also commented on the bodies, becoming the highest national leader to do so.
He ordered the police to investigate the matter and all other various killings that have been taking place recently and have not yet been solved.
Speaking at the Maulid Baraza in Singida Region yesterday Premier Majaliwa said the police must promptly unlock the mystery behind the deaths and find perpetrators so that they are taken to task.
“We can’t accept such a senseless act, I’m glad the Minister for Home Affairs is with us at this gathering, and through him I order the police to thoroughly investigate the case and bring to book all those who will be found responsible,” he said.
On Sunday, a group of young political activists identified themselves as “Union of the Thinking Generation” (UTG) raised concern on how the police handled investigations into the bodies.