By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
It has been such an emotional period; a season where we have been reminded of the untimely passing of two of the most popular entertainment figures in their time – Terry Bonchaka and Suzzy Williams.
Losing a loved one is a heart-wrenching experience and no amount of time can erase such a feeling. And if not carefully treated, one might end up affecting sensibilities – a reason why it was difficult for me to pen this, but I had to.
The conversation about the circumstances leading to the unfortunate demise of Terry Bonchaka and Suzzy Williams has been rekindled, thanks to the new revelations from their mothers, over a decade after they died.
The two are not the only popular personalities to lose their lives in supposed mysterious conditions and if we do not tackle this with some open-mindedness, it may recur almost all the time.
How the deaths were reported
According to a report filed by www.modernghana.com on August 28, 2006, Suzzy Williams died on September 8, 2005, in a car crash on the Accra-La road.
A post-mortem conducted on the late popular actress by Dr. Lawrence Edusei, a Pathologist at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, and corroborated by a Ghana Standards Board (GSB) forensic science report, dated October 10, 2005 showed that the actress had traces of cocaine in her nose and liver, and high levels of alcohol in her blood, as evident from a nose swab, blood sample analysis, as well as liver and stomach content analysis to determine a toxicology analysis.
Dr. Edusei had the deceased’s blood sample, stomach contents, liver and nose swab sent to the Ghana Standards Board for further tests on September 13, 2005.
The result of the toxicology analysis conducted on October 2, 2005 by the Forensic Science Department of the GSB showed that she had traces of cocaine in her nose as found by the nose swab.
The toxicological analysis report by Mr. Alexander Weremfo of the GSB, dated October 10, 2005, indicated that besides the cocaine detected in the deceased’s nose, the late Suzzy Williams had a blood alcohol level of 60 mg/100ml.
With such a blood alcohol level, an individual, according to the report, may show signs of intoxication such as flushing, loquaciousness (talkativeness) and slow reflexes.
Suzzy Williams sustained multiple injuries including lacerations, bruises and the cause of her death, according to the pathologist, was a massive hemorrhage or bleeding, which he added was an unnatural cause of death.
Terry Bonchaka met his untimely death on October 30, 2003, in a fatal accident on the Legon-Madina road in Accra when his car veered off the road and hit a tree.
This was right after he performed at the Akuafo Hall Week celebrations at the University of Ghana, Legon. He was later confirmed dead at the 37 Military Hospital.
Dejected parents of Terry Bonchaka and Suzzy Williams, who died at the ages of 21 and 23 years respectively, are clearly yet to come to terms with the reality even after many years of their passing and this is understandable.
The conviction of the mothers is that their beloved children were murdered!
Months ago, Mrs. Charlotte Adjetey, the mother of Terry Bonchaka, was on Hitz FM and revealed to Noella Yalley that seeing her son’s corpse confirmed to her that he was murdered.
She said the autopsy report indicated that Terry Bonchaka died of suffocation. “He couldn’t breathe, that was how it came about. What happened that he couldn’t breathe, only God knows.
“When they brought him from the mortuary and he was lying down in the house, I went in there to look at him vividly and I saw that on the neck it was as if something had been done to him. It was the hand of someone, someone did it to my son. It’s only Jehovah who knows the truth,” she said.
Just last weekend, Madam Cecilia Williams, the mother of Suzzy Williams, spoke to Stacy Amoateng on the Restoration show and stated that she believes her daughter was murdered.
“When I went into the room (hospital), I checked her heart beat and pulse, it was okay. I passed by and pulled the window down. A young, fair-coloured man came in, held her head from behind and pushed a straw/syringe into Suzzy’s nose. I can never forget it,” she narrated.
According to her, she went to the hospital a year after, to confront the authorities over what she suspected was foul play. She said the report that her daughter had cocaine in her system was inaccurate and she believes the substance that was injected in her daughter through the nostrils at the hospital was cocaine.
Asked if she believes her daughter was murdered, she responded; “Of course!”
The difficulty of letting go
The pain of a mother losing a child is traumatic. It is extremely difficult and regardless of the true nature of the deaths of Terry Bonchaka and Suzzy Williams or the authenticity of the postmortem, letting go is not easy.
“I’ve been crying all along because I miss him. He was a son and a friend, you know how it is [when] you’ve lost a friend, you know how it feels,” Terry’s mother said.
Madam Cecilia Williams said she misses her daughter too.
“When we used to eat together and it was left with the last bite of the food, Suzzy will tell me that is hers and her name is on it,” she recollected with a smile.
I am not in the position to discredit any form of belief in superstition or any perceived foul play in the untimely deaths of these two personalities but sometimes, letting go is difficult and holding on to something, just anything, be it the assurance or the knowledge that the loved one did not die naturally, counts for these mothers.
Poor reporting of celebrity deaths
Clearly, the media has not mastered the skill of reporting celebrity deaths. From the deaths of Bob Cole, Santo, Mac Tontoh, Kiki Gyan, Kwame Owusu Ansah, to Michael Dwamena, Daasebre Gyamena, Ebony and many others – reports on celebrities’ cause of death have largely been based on accounts of friends, extended family members and hear say.
Rarely do we have a concrete and true report on the causative agents of the deaths of our celebrities like we had for Suzzy Williams.
Elsewhere, even when celebrities die via motor accidents, media reports give a vivid account on what caused the deaths. We know how Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker died, but we do not know how Ebony died.
Walker, 40, was found dead along with his friend and financial adviser Roger Rodas in a burnt-out Porsche Carrera GT in Los Angeles after their car crashed.
The coroner’s report said Walker died of the combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries while Rodas, the driver, died of multiple traumatic injuries. No drugs or alcohol were detected in either men.
American music legend Prince was found unresponsive in an elevator. He died later and after six or so weeks after his death, the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Minnesota released the long-awaited autopsy report declaring that his death was by accidental fentanyl toxicity but we still do not know what killed Michael Dwamena.
We must do better
The families, coroners, the police and the media must all do better in how we report celebrity deaths in Ghana.
In some cases, families are privy to the real cause of death, but fail to share with the media. Some coroners refuse to share the actual cause of deaths for some celebrities and the media also fail to investigate further to report the actual deaths of these popular figures.
After the media feverishly reports on the hear-say accounts of how a celebrity died, we go to sleep, not following up on a coroner’s report or postmortem, knowing very well that it takes days, weeks and months to come out with a report.
If we do better and report accurately on the causes of these celebrity deaths, maybe, we may help in giving the aggrieved families closure and save them from hanging on to myths and coming out years later to make wild allegations on what may have killed their loved ones. We ought to do better!