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Death penalty for the murder of SOS co-workers


A judge in Somaliland has sentenced 8 people to death for the murder of SOS workers, Dick and Enid Eyeington. The British couple, who had spent forty years teaching in Africa but had been working at the SOS School in Sheikh for just under a year, were murdered in their own home in an unprovoked attack in October 2003.

The couple moved from County Durham to Swaziland in 1963 and began working at the Waterford Kamhlaba School in 1971. They joined SOS Children in Swaziland in 1995, where Dick was National Coordinator and Enid worked on community outreach projects for AIDS sufferers. In 2003 they moved to the organisation’s school in Sheik, Somaliland, where they were working on developing a new library for the school.

Throughout their teaching in Africa the Eyeingtons had fostered an ethos of egalitarianism, creating a school environment that encouraged tolerance and vigorous debate; ANC and United Democratic Front speakers were brought from South Africa.

20 October marked the second anniversary of the couple’s deaths and a memorial service was held at the SOS School in Sheikh, attended by school staff and students, members of the local community and representatives of the Somaliland government.

Led by dignitaries from the Somaliland government including the Minister of State for the Interior, those present observed a minute's silence before speaker after speaker condemned the murders of Dick and Enid Eyeington.

School principal, Mohammed Omer, read the eulogy while elders from the Sheikh community gave speeches, describing the Eyeingtons as generous and kind people who were conscious of community development. The power generator and the clean piped water supply are just two examples of the projects they undertook for the benefit of the community.

The Mayor of Sheikh closed the ceremony with a passionate appeal to well wishers to help the school in honour of the late Eyeingtons, so that the developments they had initiated could be realised. In the evening, a football match in honour of Dick and Enid was played in the school playground between a community team and students from the Sheikh school. The 'Eyeingtons Cup' was presented to the winning community team.

On presenting the cup, the principal, Mohamed Omer said, "Dick being a great footballer and coach deserves a football match in his honour and this will be our tradition from now on."

Eight men were convicted and sentenced to death and seven others given life sentences for their part in the murder of the Eyeingtons at the court in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland on Monday.

Relevant Countries: Somalia, Swaziland.

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