A Tanzanian family is grieving following the death of their son in the Russian-Ukraine war. Nemes Tarimo’s family alleges they warned him against agreeing to fight with the Russian forces but the 33-year-old told them that the offer came with a big incentive.
“Nemes informed me and some other family members about joining Wagner, and we advised him not to,” said the family member, who did not want to give their name.
The family said that Tarimo, had ambitions to be an MP with the opposition Chadema party in his country. He had been in Moscow as an ICT master’s student at the Russian Technological University but was imprisoned early 2021 for what were described as drugs-related offences.
They last heard from him in October 2022, when he said he had agreed to sign up with the Russian mercenary group Wagner. Last year, he was enticed with a deal: sign up and be pardoned or stay in prison. He took the offer to free himself.
It has been more than three weeks since his relatives learnt of the news that confirmed their worst fears. He had died in combat.
His family in Dar es Salaam said they were still waiting for news about his body’s repatriation back home.
The young man was described by his relatives as polite, God-fearing and supportive.
This case is similar to that of 23-year-old Zambian student Lemekhani Nyirenda, who had also been in prison in Russia and died last year fighting with Wagner.
Zambian Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo told parliament that he had been informed about how prisoners could be pardoned if they agreed to fight.
Last September, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin was seen in leaked footage outlining the rules of fighting, such as no deserting or sexual contact with Ukrainian women, and then giving the prisoners five minutes to decide if they want to sign up.
Tarimo’s family has learnt that he died at the end of October while on a combat mission in Ukraine with Wagner.
“We last communicated with him on 17 October, when he was already a member of Wagner.
“We then got information in December from his friends over his death,” which according to media reports, was a result of Ukrainian artillery fire.