The caretaker is telling us he’s seen bodies buried on Monkey Hill. This is a different story than I thought I was covering. Several days ago, my media house received a tip that someone was interested in turning Monkey Hill, Ghana’s largest eco-tourism site and nature reserve in the middle of a city, into a graveyard. The Takoradi cemetery is full and land is a hot commodity. Now I find out, a grave has already been dug, only several hundred metres from a school. We walked through a school playground to get there.
Alex Tetteh, the park’s only warden and security guard says he discovered it three days ago. When he dug at it to see what it was, he saw body parts and stopped. I am staring at a grave. I am staring at a crime scene. I am walking all over a crime scene. Why were the police not notified? This is not the first time I have asked this question since being here and I can tell he doesn’t like the question. For the third time he answers the same way: “I told my supervisor and he told me to call Skyy, so I’ve just been waiting for Skyy.”
Monkey Hill, as the name implies, is supposed to be a safe haven for monkeys, but without a fence poachers have killed most of the monkeys that called the reserve home. A former popular tourist site, the park has attracted visitors from around the world. Now it is quite literally a dump. Next to New Takoradi, the forest is used as a waste yard and a toilet by people who don’t have bathrooms in their homes. Lately it’s attracted some unwanted activity. Partiers use it as a place to smoke and hang out. Now Tetteh is worried it’s become a place for serious crimes to occur.
When we step into the office of Donkris Mavuta, executive director of Friends of the Nation, a local NGO that manages the park, Mavuta is on the phone. When he has finished his conversation, he tells us he also knows about the grave and has for several days now. “It was just reported to me by the warden who looks after the place. It is quite an unfortunate situation,” he says.
When I ask him why he didn’t report the finding to the police, he says he decided to inform the media instead. The police will find out from our report, he says.
I ask if he’s concerned it could be a crime scene. “Will you inform the police now?” I ask.
He chuckles, “I don’t have time.” He means he doesn’t have time to be an eyewitness.
“This is not the first time I heard it. I think this is the second. We need to be careful of this and ensure that people who are doing this illegal [activity] are brought to book.”
I ask him if he is certain that another body was found on Monkey Hill. He is unspecific about how long ago it was, but insists someone is turning the reserve into a cemetery. That’s why he is now bringing this information into the public domain. Hopefully now, police investigations can get under way to find those responsible.