Thursday 30 March 2017

Sunday-school teacher Rudo was well-liked and loved children

Rudo Mawere
Rudo Mawere
The house in Rathmines, Dublin, where Ms Mawere was staying
Garda officers at the scene where the body of Rudo Mawere was found stuffed inside a suitcase. Photo: Damien Eagers

Louise Hogan and Colm Kelpie

SUNDAY-SCHOOL teacher Rudo Mawere left her home country of Malawi full of hopes and dreams for her new life in Ireland.

She wanted to work as an au pair, and carefully set about penning an online ad that would appeal to an Irish family looking for someone to mind their children.

"I am an honest, reliable and likeable lady. I really love being around kids," she wrote just one year ago on an au pair website. "I am a lady who has passion for children since I was young. I love being around kids.

"I care for the little children. I was also a Sunday school teacher in my country Malawi, it was really fun having lots of kids and teaching them about God."

Her description of herself was echoed by those who met her. They painted a picture of a young woman who was friendly, smiling, quiet, studious, religious and had a love for singing. Her intention was to return to Malawi to set up a small nursery school as "kids are my life". But two years after Ms Mawere arrived here, the petite young woman -- she stood less than 5ft-tall -- met a gruesome end. Her fully clothed body was found folded up and stuffed into a 2ft-by-4ft travel bag abandoned on Blackhorse Avenue, near the Phoenix Park, in Dublin early on Sunday morning.

A passer-by made the grim discovery when they unzipped the bag, which had been lying on the wet path under the grainy street lights since around 7pm on Saturday.

Gardai believe she was strangled just a few streets away.

Investigators swiftly began trying to piece together what had happened to Ms Mawere.

They spoke to her flatmates in the dilapidated, old house on Leinster Road in Rathmines where the young student had stayed for the past two years.

They showed three photographs to her neighbours to jog their memories and interviewed her classmates at the Business and Computer Training Institute (BCT) at Parnell Square, Dublin, to build a picture of her final days.

"Her lecturer is very upset. She was very quiet and a very good student in her second year of the Human Resources Diploma," a BCT spokesman said. "She was an excellent student, very quiet and we are gobsmacked."

The 26-year-old, who liked swimming and reading novels, had plenty of friends at the college.

Her study visa permitted her to work 20 hours a week, with college hours scheduled from 9am until 6pm Monday to Thursday, with every Friday, Saturday and Sunday free for international students to earn money. The hours were not well-suited to life as an au pair and it is believed she worked as a cleaner.

In recent months, the young student had signed up at a new college and was only weeks away from beginning a Bachelor of Business Degree on February 13.

Fiona Reynolds, student recruitment manager at IBAT College at Wellington Quay in Dublin, said: "We are devastated for her family. She hadn't started here as a student yet. It is incredibly sad news to hear of an international student murdered in Dublin."

A neighbour said she often heard Ms Mawere singing through the walls.

"She was a nice girl, very friendly, I knew her to say hello to," said another neighbour.

"Nobody deserves that," added another.

Irish Independent

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