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Delali Assigbley was “deeply religious and warm-hearted”, say her friends / Photo: Peter Werner

African woman set ablaze by husband buried in Kiel, as fresh facts emerge about the couple

The news of Delali Afiwoa Assigbley’s death in a horrific manner went round the world. It’s a death that would shake the most hard-hearted human being.

On Wednesday, 7 December Delali’s husband, Koffi W., poured petrol on her in the streets of Kronshagen, near the northern German city of Kiel, and set her ablaze.

Before the fire could be put out, in just about five minutes, the 38-year-old Togolese-born woman had burnt so badly that doctors who attended to her could no longer determine her gender. She died hours after being delivered into the hospital.

The city of Kiel and the community of the socially-engaged bid  Delali Assigbley with a series of activities last weekend.  There was a silent march by hundreds of participants through the inner city of Kiel on Friday, 16 December. The event, organized by the Lord Mayor of Kiel in collaboration with many organisations including Frauenbündnis Kiel, Referat für Gleichstellung der Landeshauptstadt Kiel, Bündnis Eine Welt Schleswig-Holstein e.V.  and the Beauftragte für Flüchtlings-, Asyl- und Zuwanderungsfragen des Landes Schleswig-Holstein, was a public demonstration against violence against women in the country. Last year, 331 women were murdered by their husbands in Germany.

An African wake-keeping for the deceased also took place in the city the same day. A public funeral church service was held on Saturday, 17 December for Delali Assigbley before her remains were committed to mother earth at the Kiel cemetery the same day.

“Deeply religious and warm-hearted”

Delali studied law in Togo and came to Germany in 2003. She graduated in pedagogics with the German equivalent of First Class honours at the Christian Albrechts University Kiel in 2012.

She worked as employee of Bündnis Eine Welt Schleswig Holstein (the umbrella organisation of more than 80 development policy organisations in Schleswig-Holstein), at the time of her death.

Many who knew Delali and worked with her in the various social projects for which she was engaged in Kiel testify to her public spiritedness, her communicative talent and her tireless engagement for refugees. Friends describe her as “deeply religious and warm-hearted”.

Delali Assigbley was the coordinator of the women’s project Sisters-Frauenwege in Togo (a group that supports Togolese women in Germany and in their homeland) and she was a frontline member of the refugee-support group Flüchtlingsrat Schleswig-Holstein e.V. and the campaign Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World). She was also a very active member of the Freien Christengemeinde (Free Christians’ Community) in Kiel.

Why did Koffi W. do such a terrible thing?

What could have made Koffi W. set a fellow human being ablaze not to talk of his wife and mother of his two sons? This is the question anybody who has heard the story is confronted with.

According to information in the German media, the couple had problems in their marriage and they separated and reconciled several times. At the time of the monstrous act, the couple lived separately. Friends of the couple say the two had quarrelled several times in the past months.

The state prosecutor has announced that 41-year-old Koffi W. has confessed to the crime and he revealed that the murder suspect had been treated once in a psychiatric hospital. However, investigators believe that the Togolese knew what he did on the fateful day and could not claim to be of unsound mind.

Investigators say the action of Koffi W. was “single-mindedly intended to punish and destroy” the victim. The trial of Koffi W., a jobless metal worker, for the murder of his wife is expected to begin in about four months, according to the state office of prosecution.

The couple’s two sons, aged 3 and 7, are being looked after by foster parents.

Sola Jolaoso

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