Shock and fear gripped the residents of a small neighbourhood in Gatenga suburb of Kigali on June 8 after it emerged that one of their own had been murdered inside her house.
Delphine Uwamurera, 35, was found dead in her bedroom by her neighbours after she had ‘gone missing’ for two days. She was a resident of Sabaganga Village, Nyanza Cell in Gatenga Sector in Kicukiro District.
“Her body bore multiple cuts from what we suspect to be stabs from a sharp object like a kitchen knife,” one of the residents who heads the Isibo, a largely informal social and administrative unit at the grassroots, told The New Times.
He declined to identify himself due to his personal safety since the assailant remains at large.
“There was a foul smell coming from the house but at first it didn’t occur to us that it was actually someone’s body, we broke the door nonetheless because it was locked with a padlock and yet Delphine had not been seen for two days,” he added.
On opening the door, he added, they found the victim lying on her bed face down and covered in bedsheets.
“One of the people we were with removed the beddings, of course, there was this strong stench all over the place but it’s when her body was turned over that it dawned on us that she had been killed, she was lying in a pool of blood and her bulging abdomen bore multiple stab wounds.”
“I had woken up on Sunday (June 6) angry at Delphine and was waiting for her to wake up so I talk to her about the events of the previous night,” her former landlady said, also declining to reveal her identity. “That previous night she had hosted someone and they played music so loudly it disrupted neighbours for much of the night.”
Loud music before deafening silence
“But she did not come out, only to realise later that the door was actually locked from outside,” she recalled. “I presumed she had gone to buy groceries but then she didn’t turn up all day.
“That’s when we decided to call her, and a male voice on the other end of the line said she had gone to buy something and would return my call later.”
She didn’t call back and didn’t return home, she said.
Two days later, on Tuesday, June 8, one of the immediate neighbours picked up a weird smell around the compound. “I thought it was probably a dead mouse but then we hadn’t baited one in a while,” a neighbour tells this reporter.
She reached out to the landlady to inquire about the strange smell but they couldn’t figure it out. Later, they traced the origins of the stench to the house where Uwamurera lived.
“We proceeded to alert the head of Isibo and the door was subsequently broken down,” she says. “What we found out still haunts us.”
So, when was the last time Uwamurera’s neighbours saw her and who could be behind the murder?
The victim was last seen alive on June 5, her former neighbours and friends say.
It was a bright Saturday morning when Uwamurera woke up and shortly after she joined a few of her neighbours – all women – for a morning chat in the shared compound.
That was their morning routine, we learnt.
She had been staying there for five months and was already friends with some of the neighbours.
The women chatted merrily about everything and anything.
After catching up, Uwamurera told her neighbours that she was expecting guests and needed to go to prepare for them. So she headed off to her house to clean and do other chores. She cooked a meal and took a shower. Her guests arrived around midday and they all sat outside to share drinks and food. Some of the neighbours passed by to greet them.
Later, in the evening, Uwamurera’s guests bid her farewell and left. Then, at around 7p.m, another guest of Uwamurera’s arrived, unannounced.
“We hadn’t seen him before,” says her former next-door neighbor. “He had a thin face with a fully packed bag.”
Apparently, Uwamurera was glad to see him, she recollected. The two talked and laughed and were clearly enjoying each other’s company. They seemed to have known each other for a while.”
“She was so excited and was shouting that he was her long lost husband. She brought out pictures of them together and was happily showing them off to passers-by and neighbours. They sat outside together before moving inside as it got darker,” she adds. They were just the two of them.
And, then deep in the night, at around 2a.m the next-door neighbour suddenly heard deafening noise emanating from Uwamurera’s house. It was music.
“It was strange because it was not something we knew about her, the music was so loud it was heard by many neighbours,” she notes. It went on for a while, in wee hours of Sunday morning. But this source woke up at around 4a.m to a quiet morning, she recalls.
Love gone wrong?
In the morning there were no signs of Uwamurera, neither her guest.
When Uwamurera’s body was finally found in her house, witnesses say, some of her hair had been pulled out.
“We were struck with fear,” she says.
Uwamurera’s suspected murderer is believed to be the man who arrived at her home that evening leading up to the fateful hours of Saturday night or Sunday morning. The same man she had been seen drinking and cosying up with.
Some residents in the area have since speculated that the two were once lovers and had a child together.
The New Times learnt that Uwamurera had a daughter aged 15 who lived with her grandmother in Muhanga District.
“We think this is a case of an estranged lover who was coming for revenge,” said one of them. There were also suggestions that the man in question was fresh out of prison for a separate crime when he showed up in the neighbourhood that evening, but The New Times could not independently verify any of these claims.
Meanwhile, following the incident, distraught neighbours went on to alert authorities and security organs.
Rwanda Investigation Bureau was non-committal about the specifics of the case when this publication contacted them last week, with its spokesperson, Thierry Murangira, only saying they had launched an investigation.
He also did not disclose who they regarded as the prime suspect. “We will let you know in due course.”
It is understood that RIB took the body for a postmortem before it was released for burial on June 9.
Both Uwamurera’s mother and daughter attended her burial.
Source New Times.