Nkoltang, three months after the murder of Catherine
A mutilated body carried on a stretcher. Blood stains on clothes. A grieving woman and children shouting their rage. Open wounds . The assassination on October 27, little Ekovone Catherine, 4, is still present in the minds at Nkoltang, a group of villages located 30 kilometers from Libreville (capital city of Gabon).
Three months after the ritual murder, the memory of little Catherine is still more than alive. Violent images of bruised bodies continue to trot in the heads of pity and shocked residents, beyond their ethnic lines. "We will not soon forget this abominable crime. It will live long in our memories. Personally, I was traumatized at the sight of the little girl mutilated body", says Chantal, a young resident of Nkoltang.
Claude Emery Massandé, the alleged murderer of Catherine, had deported her body to his home in the outskirts of the village. He had dealt a machete to the neck. The girl immediately collapsed, dead. Using a scalpel, the criminal had taken the flesh of the neck. "This is the worst thing someone can do to your child. If we had caught the killer, he would have been burned alive. It was frustrating to know that this girl was dismembered as a game. If the death penalty still existed, it had to be shot in turn", said one notable of Nkoltang.
PAIN . At the mother of Catherine’s place, on Saturday afternoon. The atmosphere is heavy. Sitting in the middle of an impromptu «men’s shack» (corps de garde) in the middle of the family home playground, is Martine Ave Mba, 70, grandmother of Catherine, saying nothing. The septuagenarian seems dipped in dark ruminations. She is still stunned by the murder of her granddaughter whom she had given the name of his mother. "I can not realize what happened," sighs the septuagenarian, staring into nothingness.
Bendoume Augustine, 42, mother of the deceased, is in the living room with her daughter, Cornelia and her younger sister, Veronica Afoupseng who came from Ntoum. This is the terrace where there is more air they will receive visitors. The children leave the plastic chairs. The uncle of the late Catherine, Théophile Mba, and the old lady Martine Ave Mba, join them. The arrival of journalists dare to break the oppressive silence of the day. The topic to discuss is reviving bad memories.
In Augustine’s head, things are still not turning right. She remains petrified by the murder of her daughter. Her heart became a wound, simply touch it to bleed. At night, the forty years old mother often weaks up sweating after a nightmare. "I often dream of my child asking me to stop crying. In my dreams, she told me she is safe where she is", suggests the mother, with a quavering voice.
All relatives of little Catherine remain united in grief. When times are strong, they hold their hands altogether. Stand by the shoulders. Share packets of handkerchief. Sacred family decided to stick together, for the long and painful path to mourning Catherine. Augustine remains depressed. With her hair cut short, she barely conceals her grief. Her daughter was always a happy child. Wherever she went, she marveled everyone, young and old. Her death was a disaster for her friends, family and, most of all, for the country that was moved when the announcement of the drama was made.
GRIEF. The family of the girl would have liked her to grow up and live longer. "Every time we think about her, our eyes wet with tears", says Theophilus Mba, the uncle of the deceased. "We look back all the time to the joy we experienced at birth, when she smiled for the first time, at her day in class, and countless moments of happiness she brought us", adds Cornelia Ave. All this, nothing, neither death, can never erase them in their memories.
(Find the full story in tomorrow's «Echos du Nord», 01/27/2014)
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