Prof Jwani Timothy Mwaikusa
By Frank Kimboy and Bernard Lugongo
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.
The Tuesday incident follows an outcry about the rising incidence of crime in the city’s suburbs. Armed robbers have raided a number of the posh homes on the outskirts, robbing the owners of household goods, cash and other property. The worst affected areas include Mbezi, Tegeta, Kunduchi, Vingunguti and Kimara.
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.
Recalling the events of Tuesday night, Prof Mwaikusa’s son, Baraka, said the gunmen ambushed his father as he was preparing to get out of his car. He said the robbers stormed into the compounded as soon as the gate was opened for Prof Mwaikusa. They pounced on his younger brother, who had opened the gate for the professor.
“One gunman remained at the gate, while the other approached the car, as dad was parking it,” Baraka said.
But before the other man reached Prof Mwaikusa, Baraka said their cousin, Mwaisanjala, arrived and confronted the gunmen, demanding to know what they were doing in the compound.
“After noticing that the suspect who was holding my brother had a gun, our cousin charged at him and attempted to wrestle him down, but the other crook came to his help.
Baraka said Mwaisanjala was shot in the back as he tried to dash to safety.
“I soon heard a bang and came out of the house. But I was immediately ordered to lie down by the gunmen who had shot my father in the forehead,” he said.
Baraka said the gunmen ransacked the car and took his father’s briefcase and some documents.
A neighbour said they accompanied Mr Mtui, who was armed with a pistol. But their mission ended when they ran into the fleeing suspects, who ordered them to lie down.
“They frisked us and took money and mobile phones but Mr Mtui resisted an attempt to search him. They immediately shot him on seeing his pistol.”
The deceased was a businessman. The robbers also raided a nearby shot and robbed the owner of cash and mobile phone vouchers worth over Sh120,000. The locals the raiders had arrived by motorbike.
The bodies of the three victims were taken to the Muhimbili Hospital mortuary.
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.
In the past two months alone, five people have been shot dead by armed robbers. Two businessmen were shot dead last month at Kimara Temboni. In May, a trader was shot dead in Vingunguti.
In the Mbezi Beach area, residents recently called a press conference to appeal to police to step up patrols to curb armed robberies.