A seven-member jury has found Effort Dankwa guilty of attempted murder for shooting his pregnant wife in her sleep.
Benita Dankwa woke up on August 29, 2015 “feeling like a balloon” only to realise she had been paralysed. The police later found a bullet, shot through her chest at a close range, in the couple’s mattress.
Her husband, Effort Dankwa, was the prime suspect.
The jury, made up of six men and a woman, returned a 5-2 guilty verdict after an initial 4-3, “guilty” verdict. The judge explained that if it wasn’t an offence punishable by death, a unanimous decision was not required. However, it ought to be at least 5-2 for a guilty verdict to be arrived at.
The jury went back and returned shortly that the verdict was now 5-2.
The face of Effort Dankwa, which had lighted up after the initial verdict, turned blank after the second verdict was announced by the female member of the jury.
The judge ordered he should be placed in police custody awaiting his sentencing on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.
The parents of the victim Benita Dankwa, who was paralysed from her chest downward said they were happy that justice had finally been served.
“It is not the number of years he is going to spend in prison that matters to me, but the fact that he has been proven guilty is my main interest. I am satisfied and okay with the court,” her father, Seth O.S. Yirenkyi, told The Fourth Estate.
Her mother said she felt relieved. “My heart is at peace and comforted by God’s word that patience begot victory. Jehovah is a lover of justice. If, after all these years, they have investigated and found that he is guilty, then that is God’s verdict. It isn’t that I am happy nor sad. My daughter is forever incapacitated, but the truth has been unveiled,” she said.
The jury’s verdict came seven years after Effort, then 36 years, was arrested after police investigations identified him as the prime suspect in an attack on his wife, Benita Dankwa, then 29.
The Fourth Estate’s Editor-in-chief, Manasseh Azure Awuni, who broke the story reported that Benita was eight months pregnant at the time.
She was shot in the chest, in what she believed was an attempt by her husband to kill her.
She did not die, but the attack left her paralysed and incapable to pass urine or faecal matter the natural way.
She was first taken to the Tema General Hospital because her husband failed to mention she had been shot. The doctors at Tema General Hospital referred her to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after noticing the gunshot wound.
“On August 29, 2015, when the nurses saw me, they said this is a gunshot, so they have to report the case before they operate on me,” Benita said.
She was advised to get a police report. Her husband who was in the room with her when she was shot claimed he never heard the gunshot. He also failed to report the matter to the police when his wife’s family asked him to do so. Benita’s brother eventually went and reported to the police.
He was arrested, detained briefly, and released on bail. A family friend who feared the case might die reported the case to Manasseh Azure Awuni, who produced a documentary on the matter that shocked a number of Ghanaians.
Effort Dankwa was rearrested and charged with attempted murder. He denied the allegation and claimed some armed robbers from Ashaiman might have been responsible for the shooting.
Investigations showed there was no break into the house the night of the attack and the only person Benita spent the night with was her husband.
Effort Dankwa was arrested in 2016 after police investigations identified him as the prime suspect in an attack on his wife.
During the proceedings, Benita told the court that she was convinced her better half perpetrated the act because he did not want a child.
“I wanted to have kids, but he said he didn’t want kids before and during the course of the marriage,” she said in her evidence to an Accra High Court.
She told the court that her husband appeared to care less about her pregnancy.
The bloody towel
According to court documents, a day after the incident, Effort Dankwa, allegedly asked his wife’s cousin, Priscilla, to clean the crime scene.
While Priscilla was doing the chore, she claimed she saw a towel soaked in blood hidden under the bed. She said she immediately identified the owner of the towel because Effort had always used the said towel for bathing.
Describing the towel, Priscilla said it was a green towel with flowers and three red dolls imprinted on it. According to her, when she showed the bloody towel to the accused, he asked her to throw it away.
“When the accused told me to throw it away, I didn’t. I added the towel to the other things and took them to Community 8. There, I washed all the things but left the towel.
“I told my mother that the accused had asked me to throw it away, but she asked me to wash it because we can still use it as a rag. There was so much blood that I had to rinse it twice after washing,” she said.
Watch the full documentary on the shooting of Benita Dankwa here: