Arusha. Shock gripped Arusha and its environs yesterday following reports of near fatal shooting at one of the oldest private schools.
Two teachers of the Usa River Academy, located about 20 kilometres from the city centre along the Moshi highway, are nursing injuries from gun shots blamed on the school owner.
Regional police commander Ramadhani Ng’anzi confirmed the unprecedented incident which sent shock waves among the school fraternity in the region.
He told The Citizen that a team of detectives, led by the regional crimes officer, was already at the scene and that he would give details later.
Mr Jerry Murro, the Arumeru district commissioner, where the school is located, was among the first government officials to reach the scene shortly after the alleged shooting early on Monday.
He ordered the immediate arrest of the prime suspect and the owner and director of the private academy, Mr Robert Mtibala alias Robert Naibala Lucumay, for questioning at the Usa River police station.
Two of the injured teachers have been identified as Anneth Mollel and Prostus Richard. They were rushed to the nearby Tengeru District Hospital for treatment.
It could not be established if their injuries were from the bullets allegedly fired by the school owner or the recochet of the bullet.
Eye witnesses said scores of teachers at the academy had closed the metal gates of the school early on Monday to press for payment of their salary arrears.
This did not go down well with the school owner who rushed to the area in a huff and opened fire on the gate to force entry while about 20 teachers were behind it.
The metallic parts from the gun shots are said to have injured Ms Mollel in the face and Mr Richard in his stomach and they went on to report the incident to the DC.
Until late yesterday, it could not be established if the school owner was still detained by the police. Until press time the RPC had not issued an official report.
Speaking to journalists, Ms Mollel said the dispute over pay with their employer had lingered for a long time and that matters reached the Arumeru DC’s office in November last year.
“We did everything including dialogue to convince him to pay our six months’ salaries unsuccessfully. Instead he is threatening to kill us,” she said.
For his part, Mr Richard said they had been living under fear since they started to demand their salary payments with the school owner bragging that nothing could happen to him.
Monday’s incident which coincided with the opening of schools country-wide has nevertheless sent shock waves and has put in the spotlight the safety and welfare of the teachers, especially in private academies.
Usa River Academy was established in 2001 by Mr Lucumay mainly as a response to an education gap in the provision of English based quality education in the country at the time.
The school, which started as a primary school, has grown to include a pre-primary, pre-secondary and secondary sections with provisions for both day and boarding facilities.
Although private academies initially appeared to be doinga roaring business through their high fees, in recent times they have complained of high taxation by the government.