Apr 20, 2016 News
An employee of Mohamed and Bibi Munir was among two people in custody yesterday as detectives stepped up efforts to track down the individuals who deliberately set the elderly couple’s Good Hope, East Bank Essequibo
home alight while they were still inside.
Police sources said that the detained employee is a handyman who lives in a street behind the Munirs’ property. He was reportedly arrested at his home.
An official said that the employee was detained based on information that investigators have obtained, but declined to state what those leads might be.
Kaieteur News was told that another resident is also in custody.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum confirmed that an employee is being questioned, but declined to say whether investigators are treating the case as a murder/robbery or a deliberate plan to kill the rice-farming couple.
Ranks from the Force’s Major Crimes Unit are spearheading the investigation.
Mohamed Munir, 75, and his wife Bibi Jamila Munir, 69, perished shortly after 23.00 hrs on Sunday, after being trapped in a raging fire that destroyed their heavily-grilled, two storey house. Their badly burnt corpses were retrieved from the debris after the fire was finally extinguished.
Eyewitnesses said that the blaze started in the upper flat and that the entire flat was engulfed within minutes. While some residents said that they had heard gunshots, post mortem examinations performed on the victims showed that they had died from severe burns.
Residents, and a passing family who were among the first on the scene, could only stand by helplessly, listening to the elderly couple’s screams, which eventually ceased as the flames overwhelmed them.
Police have received reports from at least one female neighbour, who said that she saw two people in the couple’s verandah before the fire broke out. The neighbour also claimed to have heard Mrs. Munir screaming that ‘bandits’ were in the house.
Shamiza Khosial said that she was up at around 23:00 hrs, when her son told her that there were people fighting at the Munirs’ residence.
On peeping outside, Mrs. Khosial said that she saw two people on the couple’s verandah. She also heard the Munirs screaming for help.
“The place was dark and I see two persons on the verandah and then I started to hear they (the couple) shouting that bandits were in the house,” Khosial said.
The woman said that she also heard Mrs. Munir apparently calling their family friend, businessman, Shiraz Ali, to tell him that bandits were on the property. She also said that she saw the couple thrusting their hands through their grilled-up bedroom window.
Khosial said that shortly after, she saw “a ball of fire” in the living room area and within minutes the entire property was engulfed in flames. The woman said that the victims were trapped in their bedroom, since the window, like other areas in the house, had grill-work.
Businessman Shiraz Ali said that Bibi Jamila Munir had contacted him by phone to say that bandits were in the house, while pleading with him to help. Ali said he arrived in about seven minutes, but by then the entire property was in flames.
Among those first on the scene was a family that was heading to Parika, East Bank Essequibo by bus on Sunday night. One family member recalled that they were passing Good Hope when they saw flames emanating from the upper flat of a house.
“We started blowing the (vehicle’s) horn, but nobody looked out. We start shouting ‘fire, fire,’ and knocked on the gate, and finally, the next door neighbour looked out and two other people came to us.”
He also recalled that the Munirs front gate was not bolted, and two young men climbed over the gate.
Seeing that the flames were spreading to the neighbour’s house, the man and others helped the family to remove their valuables from the property. Another young man from the group said that he entered the Munirs yard and it was then that he heard someone screaming in the top flat.
Mr. Munir, who was in his bedroom, flung some keys through the bedroom window and told those trying to rescue them to drive one of his tractors out of the yard.
This was done, and Mr. Munir began shouting for the neighbours to use a second tractor to pull down the grill from the bedroom window.
The young man said that he suggested that they hitch a length of chain to the tractor and to the grill, but by then the flames had begun to engulf the entire upper flat and the heat was immense.
“Then he (Mr. Munir) say that his wife not breathing anymore, and after awhile he (too) stopped talking.”
Some of the couple’s children have flown in from overseas and Kaieteur News understands that the victims are to be laid to rest today.
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