4yr-old child discovered dead in neighbors’ open septic tank in Mt Barclay
Family demands justice
By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh
The discovery of the body of a four-year-old girl, Irena Bargehn alias “Small Na” in Mount Barclay, Newton Community outside Monrovia has shocked the entire community.
Small Na’s lifeless body was discovered on Thursday, December 22, in a neighbor’s open septic tank in the area, with family and residents now pointing figures at Mr. Robert Siah, owner of the pit latrine demanding justice.
Mr. Siah, now in Police custody at the Mount Barclay, Zone -11 depot -one, is alleged to be the owner of a nearby House with an open septic tank also used as a pit latrine, where the body of” Small Na” was found, with fumes, oozing from her mouth and nose.
The mud-bricks toilet is a squatting toilet. The open septic tank connecting to the bathroom was right underneath the squat pan. The septic tank is a U-shaped hole, with a pipe, linking the squatting pan in the mudbrick bathroom. It is used for bathing and defecation.
Residents alleged that Mr. Siah has reluctantly refused to protect, his open septic tank, which threatens children’s safety in the area.
They say the unprotected pit latrine may have led to the downcast of the little girl while playing with other children around it.
Little Irena Bargehn- was born on September 1, 2019, and met her untimely death on Thursday morning, December 22, 2022.
The family told NewDawn that the child and her 19-year-old Mother, Bendora Bargehn, had come from a nearby area in the Community, Palm Wine Station, Mount Barclay, to render assistance to one of the mother’s aunties identified as Princess Newon, who lived in the Newton Community, when the tragedy occurred.
It is said that little Irena Bargehn, was reported missing by her mother Bendora and aunt Princess Newon hours before she was discovered dead.
In an interview, Madam Newon narrated that “Small Na” and her brother-in-law’s daughter Lydia Bargehn and other children were last seen playing in front of the house while her mother (Bendora) was hooking grass in the yard.
Madam Newon said she had gone in the house to rest but woke up just to be told by Bendora that she could not see her daughter Irena among the children. This prompted the search for her in the community for nearly an hour, but she was nowhere to be found.
Madam Newon further narrated that after they searched and couldn’t find the little girl, they decided to call John Bargehn, informing him that the little girl had gone missing.
She said John came quickly and joined the search along with other neighbors before discovering her lifeless body floating in the open septic tank at the back of Mr. Siah’s house.
Speaking in tears, the girl’s mother Bendora said mournfully: “Please help me understand, what has happened to my baby. How my child died this way?”
“Help me understand, how my cherish, “Small Na”, has died?” she continued. “It’s so painful for me, to lose my first child just like that, she said.
“We just came to help, aunty Princess, while I was hooking the grass, she was playing with her friends, only to notice, when I got through, I couldn’t find her. That is how I woke up aunty Princess, and we began to search all over the place, only to notice, when my uncle” JB” came we searched and found my daughter dead floating in the toilet, Bendora said tearfully.
For his part, John Bargehn, alias JB, told the NEW DAWN that he rushed to the house after receiving a call from his daughter Bendora that” Small Na”, and “Ma E” were playing but she had gone missing.
He stated that upon his arrival, he and other neighbors continue the search. He said while searching, they approached Mrs. Cynthia Siah, the wife of Mr. Siah if she had seen the child around but she responded aggressively.
He said when pushed further, she told them she had not seen the child but responded in anger telling them to check behind the house where the children were playing.
He said they noticed something strange when they got behind the house; the pit latrine usually covered with old zinc was slightly opened.
JB explained that when they removed the entire zinc, they discover Small Na body floating in over the open septic tank with fumes oozing from her mouth and nose.
He said they left her lifeless body in the pit toilet and went to the nearby police station to inform them about what had happened.
Mr. Siah was arrested for interrogation, while the family was told to take delivery of the body, which was subsequently buried at the Nimba Cemetery in Mount Barclay.
However, since the burial, there has been no further information despite series of inquiries from the police about the investigation into the incident.
“We didn’t deserve to lose a precious angel like this,” said Rev. Isaac Mathew-grandfather of the deceased little girl. “This hurt, so much, I must blame, Robert, who dug a septic tank, and left it open, as a threat to the children,” he said.
“This septic tank has been there for decades, and Robert has refused to cover it. Several times, I have left my Police Academy residence and personally asked Robert to remove the toilet from here or close the septic tank, but he has deliberately refused. You see what this has caused?” he queried.
Rev. Matthew said Siah should be held responsible for this tragedy. “I am asking the Government of Liberia through the Liberia National Police to have this House locked until this case is over, Rev. Matthew added.
Meanwhile, “Robert Siah, has since been arrested and charged as prime suspect and is now in Police Custody at Zone 11- depot- 1, Police Station in Mount Barclay, while his fiancée, only identify as Cynthia is alleged to be on the run as the family demands justice.
When contacted, officers at the Police Depot in Mount Barclay said they were not authorized to speak on the issue and referred this journalist to Police Spokesman Moses Carter.
All efforts to contact Mr. Carter proved futile. His phone rang several times unanswered.