Congolese Man Charged With Killing Netanya Woman Over NIS 200 Dispute

The suspect reportedly confessed to strangling an 18-year-old and tossing her body out a window. One of the key witnesses in the case is a Premier League soccer player.

A citizen of the Congo was charged Monday with murdering an 18-year-old girl in a Netanya hotel room last month during a dispute over NIS 200.

The indictment against Aritzia Akal Songo, 30, was filed in the Central District Court in Lod. Songo has reportedly confessed to strangling 18-year-old Zehava Chekol to death and tossing her body out a window after she demanded he pay her NIS 200 that he apparently owed her.

According to the indictment, Songo met Chekol in February at a club near the Central Bus Station in Netanya, and the two became friends. On the night of March 24, Songo went out in Tel Aviv with a male friend, another Congolese national and a player on the Premier League soccer team in Netanya with whom he had been living, according to the indictment. The two men met up with Chekol at the Central Bus Station, the indictment states.

Songo and Chekol reportedly went to a bar and then returned to her Netanya apartment in the early hours of the morning. They later went to the apartment Songo had been sharing with the soccer player, at the Carmel Hotel in Netanya, where Songo and Chekol had sex, the indictment states.

The two apparently agreed to meet again that evening, March 25, at the Carmel Hotel. But while Chekol got there at 8 P.M., the accused did not arrive until 10 minutes before midnight.

According to the indictment, Chekol was angry with Songo for being late and demanded that he return NIS 200 he owed her. At first he told her he only had NIS 100 and asked if he could pay her back the following day. Chekol apparently refused, and threatened that if he did not pay her back she would open the window and scream that he had attacked and raped her.

At this point, authorities say Songo choked Chekol with one hand and struck her in the face with the other. Chekel reportedly died of strangulation.

When Songo realized Chekol wasn't breathing, he threw her body out the window, the indictment states.


The following morning, Songo went to work as usual at Cafe Henrietta, a coffee shop in Tel Aviv, according to authorities. A passerby out for an early morning run saw her body in the hotel courtyard and called the police.

Songo was arrested that day. He originally blamed the alleged murder on the soccer player, the indictment states. But he later confessed and reenacted the murder for the police, according to the indictment. He also reportedly asked the soccer player for forgiveness.

The soccer player, whose name is being withheld by the court, is expected to be a central witness in the trial. The prosecution has asked the court to allow him to testify immediately, as his contract with the team is set to end next month and he is expected to leave Israel.

On Monday, the court ordered Songo held until further notice.