MONROVIA – A 13-year-old boy allegedly shot and killed an 82-year-old woman in Grand Gedeh County on Sunday, November 5, 2023. Franky Toffoi is accused of firing a single-barrel gun at his 82-year-old aunt, Mama Barwu, causing her death in Toffoi Town, District 2. Toffoi Town is just a 15-minute drive from Zwedru City.
According to information gathered by He For She Crusaders in Liberia, County Coordinator Alex Yomie reported that the 53-year-old father, Kelvin Toffoi, had returned from hunting. He left his gunshot in his single-barrel gun and placed it in the room before leaving little Franky and the deceased in the house. The boy took the single-barrel gun and began playfully pointing it at the deceased, resulting in the gun unexpectedly firing and instantly killing the elderly woman.
Yomie stated via mobile phone that the Liberia National Police responded to the crime scene, arrested the boy and his father, and transported them to Zwedru. They were subsequently charged with murder and placed behind bars on November 5, 2023. The following day, the father and his son were taken to the Zwedru City Magisterial Court and were remanded to the National Palace of Corrections pending a court trial.
However, during the court proceedings, it was discovered that the child was not 15 years old, as originally believed. The child’s mother revealed that her son was born on March 10, 2010, in Zwedru. Despite this clarification, the County Attorney, Cllr. Isaac Williams, refused to release the child to his mother and kept both the father and the minor detained. According to County Attorney Williams, he believed that Human Rights organizations should record his actions as he was following the documents that stated the child was 15.
When contacted via mobile phone, both the City Solicitor, Atty. Jerome Tarpeh, and County Attorney Cllr. Isaac Williams had their phones switched off. Grand Gedeh County Magistrate, His Honor Shad Dweh, stated that even if the child’s mother claimed he was thirteen, he relied on the official documents that stated the child was 15.
Meanwhile, He For She Crusaders Liberia National Coordinator Tamba Johnson has called for the protection of the child’s rights under CRC 37, which states that “Children who are accused of breaking the law should not be killed, tortured, treated cruelly, put in prison forever, or put in prison with adults. Prison should always be the last choice and only for the shortest possible time. Children in prison should have legal help and be able to stay in contact with their family.”
Johnson emphasized that the 13-year-old boy was put in harm’s way due to his father’s carelessness and should not be held liable for the actions. While regretting the tragic death of the 82-year-old senior citizen, he stressed that the child should not be imprisoned. The hashtags #FreeTheChild and #PunishTheFather have been trending on social media.
The mother of Franky, Patience Jay, confirmed on KMTV that her son is 12 years old, and she and the child’s father are separated. She received information from those present at the scene, indicating that the father, who had just returned from hunting, placed his gun under the mattress and gave his old gun to the child to play with.
When contacted via mobile phone, the Liberian National Police Assistant Commander of Police for Media Relations, Mr. Lewis Norman, stated that the investigation is ongoing. Once the findings are concluded, the police will make them public. However, he later suggested that the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection should take over the case because the child is a juvenile, and the father should be held responsible for endangering the child’s life.