Two children who were locked up in a wooden box at Agbogbloshie last Saturday have been rescued through the vigilance of a little boy.
The two six-year-olds were locked up in the box by a 21-year-old porter (kayayoo), Aisha Seidu, in apparent retaliation to alleged insults and throwing of stones at her by the two children.
Aisha, popularly called Fouzia, was said to have locked the boys after they had voluntarily entered the wooden box.
Explaining to the Daily Graphic the rationale behind her action, Aisha said she did that because the boys frequently insulted and threw stones at her any time they saw her.
However, the boys, recounting their sad story, rejected the claims by Aisha, insisting that the porter forced them into the box.
One of the victims said, “She first forced my friend in, and when I resisted, she slapped me hard on the face, covered my mouth and pushed me inside”.
The desperate attempt by the boys to free themselves from where they had been put attracted the attention of another little boy, who quickly informed the mother of one of the boys.
“They would have died from suffocation, since the box in which they were locked up was too short to contain any normal six-year-old child. Also, it did not have enough air,” said an elderly trader at the market.
At about 12.45 p.m. when this reporter reached the Old Fadama Police Station, which is close to the market, a large crowd of angry people had gathered at the gate in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Fouzia, who was behind bars.
Ms Gifty Ofori, 28, mother of one of the victims answering
questions from the Graphic said she had been informed by a little boy that her son had been locked up in a box at a spot not far from where she sold food ingredients.
She said she at first did not understand the little boy but when the reality dawned on her, she rushed to the place, only to observe, to her utter horror, that an empty box which her mother had brought the previous day to be used in keeping her wares had been locked with a brand new padlock.
Ms Ofori said when she called the son, she heard his feeble response, which made her scream for help.
Out of fear, the frightened mother said she started to hit the padlock with a stone, since she did not have the key nor knew the person who had locked the box.
She said after her frantic efforts had failed, a young man in the crowd helped to break the padlock to free the children.
Out of confusion, she said, she did not realise how long it had taken them to break the box but observed that “when the children came out, they looked frightened, weak and were soaked with sweat”.
Ms Ofori said she quickly went to the Old Fadama Police Station to lodge a complaint, after which Fouzia, who was going about her normal duties as if nothing had happened, was arrested.
Madam Linda Agbekey, 40, the guardian of one of the children, said the boy was left in her care by her sister who had attended a funeral.
“What would I have said if the boy had died in the box?” she asked.
According to Madam Agbekey, she heard that some children had been locked up in a box around the market but she did not bother to find out who they were until someone who knew her nephew came to inform her that he was one of the victims.
She said she followed up to the police station, only to find that it was the little boy she had been asked to take care of.
Contrary to earlier speculations that someone had kept the children in the box to convey them to Tamale for sale, Fouzia, who said she was from a village near Tamale, said in an interview at the police station that she only locked the boys up to end their persistent harassment of her, after her complaints to their mothers had yielded no result.
She denied that she bought a new padlock for the purpose and said she picked it from the ground close to where the box was, claiming that it belonged to the owner of the box.
The Station Officer at the Old Fadama Police Station, Inspector Joseph Aidoo, confirmed the incident and said the police were investigating the case.
Story by Lucy Adoma Yeboah