Kenyan Mum wants to meet Dubai car park killer who took daughter’s life
The heartbroken family of a young woman brutally beaten to death in Dubai have spoken of the financial uncertainty of their future after the loss of their main breadwinner.
Esther Mwikamba, 26, from Kenya, was the victim of a vicious attack: punched to the ground in a hotel car park then kicked repeatedly on the head.
She was taken to Rashid Hospital, where she remained in a coma for 31 days until her death.
Choking back tears, her mother, Hanna, 45, and sisters Lucy, 29, and Catherine, 25, paid tribute to Esther, describing candidly what she meant to her entire extended family.
"She was everything to me, to us. She was my role model," said Catherine, as she cradled her one-month-old daughter, who she named Esther in memory of her sister.
"My hope is that one day she will grow up to be the same type of person that her auntie Esther (pictured on the right) was … always helping others."
Last week, a 24-year-old unemployed Emirati began a four-year jail sentence for causing Esther’s death in the attack behind the Crowne Plaza hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road at 3am on February 18.
While the leniency of the sentence has upset the family, they know that no amount of prison time will ever bring Esther back -and their immediate concern now is how they will survive financially.
Esther’s job at a store in Dubai Mall was the family’s main source of income. She had been sending nearly all her earnings home to feed and house her mother and siblings.
"We had to move from the house that Esther had put us in and sell almost all of our stuff so that we could pay the hospital bill," said her sister, Lucy.
Hanna, Lucy, Catherine and baby Esther now all live together in an modest single room in a suburb of Mombasa.
Aside from one bed and a plastic chair, the room’s only feature is a portrait of Esther propped against the wall – a picture that makes her mother weep inconsolably every time she looks at it.
"It has been hard on all of us but my mother is suffering the most – physically, mentally and psychologically," said Lucy.
Hanna’s health has deteriorated rapidly since her daughter’s death.
"When my mother went to Dubai to see Esther in hospital, her blood pressure increased and then she suffered a stroke," said Lucy. "We then had to pay for my mother’s medical treatment, too.
"We simply don’t have anything left."
Despite the short prison sentence handed down to Esther’s killer, the family has no complaints about the criminal justice system, nor about the UAE in general.
"Esther loved the place so much," said Lucy. "She wanted all of us to live there; that was the plan."
Since Esther’s death, the family has focused its energies on one thing – looking for money to keep the household afloat.
Good jobs are rare in sub-Saharan Africa. With an ill mother and a sister with a newborn baby, the responsibility to provide falls to Lucy – but her employment opportunities are slim in Kenya.
"If I get a chance then I will go to Dubai to work so that I can look after my mother, the rest of the family and [baby] Esther," said Lucy.
Until then, the family can do little except mourn and search for meaning in Esther’s death.
Esther’s mother, Hanna, has only one wish. She wants to set eyes on her daughter’s killer.
"Will I ever get the chance to meet the person who did this to Esther? I want to ask what Esther did to him."