News: Uproar after mayor’s bodyguard abducts young woman in Hawassa, regional police in pursuit, detain six suspects

Tsega Belachew (Left), Constable Yehualamebrat Woldemariam (Right) (Photo:Social Media)

By Natnael Fite @NatieFit   

Addis Abeba – An abduction of Tsega Belachew, a young accountant who works at the Dashen Bank in Hawassa city, in the Sidama regional state, by one of the bodyguards of the city’s mayor has created an uproar among social media users in Ethiopia for nearly a week. 

Tsega was abducted on 23 May, 2023 on her way home from work by constable Yehualamebrat Woldemariam, a bodyguard of the Mayor of Hawassa, and taken to an unknown location, Tsega’s family member told Addis Standard.

“We were told by her landlord that she didn’t come home that evening. We went to her workplace in the morning, but she wasn’t there. We overheard her colleague at the bank saying that she was abducted by the mayor’s bodyguard,” the family member said.

According to the family member, the alleged abductor had repeatedly threatened to marry her against her will previously. He was a former police officer who is currently working as a bodyguard for the mayor of Hawassa, and he committed the act while being on annual leave from his workplace.

“After learning of her abduction, we immediately reported it to the Hawassa city and Sidama regional police. But it didn’t get the attention we wanted. There are those in the police who try to keep the case from getting attention because the man has contacts with the police. They tried to silence us in the name of “local culture”, the family member asserted.

Tsega’s families are aware that she was taken to various places including Yirgalem and Hagere Selam in the week since her abduction, but they do not know exactly where she is at the moment. 

“He [the suspect] has been tipped off several times and escaped when policemen moved on his location to arrest him,” the family member said.

A close associate of Tsega’s family, who asked not to be named, told Addis Standard that Tsega’s abduction took place as she was preparing to get married to her fiance with whom she completed marriage counseling offered by her church.  

“They haven’t decided on a date only because her father is sick, but they have finalized everything for the wedding. The whole family, including her fiancé, are very upset,” the person said.

Alemayehu Themothewos, head of peace and security bureau of the Sidama region told Addis Standard that footage from CCTV cameras confirmed the abduction of Tsega Belachew by constable Yehualamebrat Woldemariam on 23 May.

“We have been conducting intensive surveillance after receiving information about her abduction,” Alemayehu said, adding that six people who coordinated the abduction, including police officers who later cooperated with the suspect by tipping him information on police operations have been arrested. 

He added that they have information on the kidnapper’s current location, and they are working hard to apprehend the abductor.

Tsega Belachew was born and raised in Wolkite in the Gurage zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples region. After graduating in Accounting from Jimma University, she has been working in Dashen Bank, Warka branch in Hawassa for about a year and two months. AS

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