ICTR genocide defense lawyer killed in Tanzania
Dar es Salaam – Two gunmen on Tuesday night shot dead a top law professor and two other people during a raid at his home on Dar es Salaam’s outskirts in the latest incident in a wave of mounting crime in the city’s suburbs.
The death of Prof Jwani Timothy Mwaikusa, one of the country’s leading public law experts, plunged his family, neighbours, friends, colleagues and the entire legal fraternity into deep mourning yesterday.
The killers, who ambushed the University of Dar es Salaam’s School of Law lecturer as soon as he drove into the compound of his modest residence at SalaSala, on the northern outskirts of the city, felled him with two bullets – one into the head and the other into the chest.
Killed alongside the 58-year-old scholar, who was also a defence lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) at Arusha, were his nephew, Mr Gwamaka Mwaisanjala, 25, and a neighbour, Mr John Mtui. The neighbour was shot several metres away, as he led a group of villagers, who had responded to cries emanating from the professor’s home. All the victims died on the spot during the shocking incident that occurred just a few minutes after 10pm.
Yesterday, a high-powered team of detectives led by the Director of Criminal Investigations, Mr Robert Manumba, visited the scene of the heinous crime and launched a manhunt for the attackers who vanished into the night after the killings on Tuesday night.
The acting Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone commander, Mr Charles Kenyela, later in the afternoon used his regular press conference at the police headquarters to appeal to anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects to come forward and assist with the investigations.
“We will do whatever it takes to capture these killers and bring them to book,” said Mr Kenyela.
He said the motive behind the professor’s slaying had not been established. However, he added, the suspects had escaped with briefcase snatched from Prof Mwaikusa’s car.
At their SalaSala home yesterday, relatives and friends, including the widow, Mrs Rofea Kinani Mwaikusa, were overcome with grief, as mourners poured into the compound to console the family.
Mrs Mwaikusa, who works for the ministry of Education and Vocational Training, was away in Morogoro attending a workshop when the sad news was broken to her by telephone. She immediately drove back home, arriving at 2am.
The University of Dar es Salaam’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, and the dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof John Palamagamba Kabudi, and other members of the legal fraternity sent condolences to the family.
Prof Kabudi said Prof Mwaikusa’s death was not only a loss to his family, but also to the country as a whole. “He was a very committed, loyal, and a competent professor. His passion for training students was second to none,” he said.
In Arusha, staff at the ICTR court were stunned to learn of the death of Prof Mwaikusa, who had worked for over three years as a defence counsel for 74-year-old genocide suspect Yussuf Munyakazi. They said he had completed his defence and the court was due to deliver judgment anytime from now.
Prof Jwani Mwaikusa joined the University of Dar es Salaam in 1986 as an assistant lecturer in the then Faculty of Law. He was promoted to Associate Professor of Law in 1999. He was the chairman of the Centre for Media Studies, Research and Networking. Prof Mwaikusa, who was also a poet, had published numerous articles and book chapters on a wide range of subjects.