A sad day in August 2005Sunday, October 25, 2020
THE month of August in 2005 was a very disturbing one for me, as one of my security officers assigned to Caymanas Track Limited was murdered on the property in the vicinity of the Gregory Park gate during that month.
This gate is located about 30 feet from the Gregory Park 'Train Line', which is the location of the oldest squatter settlement in southern St Catherine.
It was a brutal murder carried out by animals who wanted one more gun, and they were willing to kill one more man to get it. This murder did not sit well with the residents of the Train Line area, as the security officer was popular in the community – having worked there for many years.
One woman, in particular, was very vocal and within days she was killed also. It was alleged that this was due to her vocalising her opinion about the murder. I knew her well and recall that she was very poor and always had her small children around her as she walked the community and the track, like the Pied Piper.
I put her off the track often but she always returned, as this was before the acquisition of the track by Supreme Ventures Limited and the construction of their much-needed wall.
After she was killed her children had no one. Social services went looking once or twice, but could not catch them. They – in essence – were raised by the 'Train Line', fed by many, parented by none. One of those children now stands before the High Court on a charge of murder.
We hunted the killers of the security officer, and with a sterling investigation and first class prosecution they were convicted. I am grateful for this. However, I sometimes wonder whether if we had put as much effort into finding family members and turning over those children as we did into finding the killers, we might have prevented that outcome that is now playing out before the High Court.
I have been very vocal about squatter settlements and their potential to breed killers. To be frank, I'm not sure what I would have become if I had been raised in one. That does not mean that I excuse the conduct of the men in there who prey on the weak. Most people who have grown and lived there are hard-working people. They are victims themselves of their history and generational poverty.
They literally matter to no one and not even human rights organisations are not there for them as they are ruled and slaughtered by gunmen – because unless it is State representatives who offend, these groups do not care either.
However, informal settlements' contribution to national crime far outweighs their contribution to population size. This is not acceptable. The irony of this particular settlement is that it is no ordinary settlement, not just because it began as far back as Apprenticeship – I am told – but because it was the community that literally determined the change of Government in 2016.
If you are scratching your head now, I do not blame you. But, you see, this seat named St Catherine East Central was a new seat formed out of the last redivision to create 63 seats. It was formerly held by People's National Party (PNP) representative Arnaldo Brown.
It has garrison-type communities, like Lakes Pen and Southboro, which are orange strongholds. The loss of this seat was the tiebreaker in what was considered a sure win for the PNP. This was, in fact, expected as a lot of construction work was done in the constituency, especially Gregory Park. This construction included a brand new high school. It was the Gregory Park voters who shifted the balance and gave the Jamaica Labour Party the Government.
This is not intended to criticise the sitting Member of Parliament, as he has done more in infrastructure for squatter settlements in Portmore than any former person who has represented Gregory Park or Newlands. What I am highlighting is the depth of over 100 years of acceptance that it is okay if people live like animals, even when they have demonstrated their ability to remove a Government.
Well, over a decade has passed since that sad day in August, and based on my math the leader of that band of killers is not too far from being released.
This may seem ridiculous, but murder is not treated as that big a deal in Jamaica. You can get parole after one third of your sentence is served.
In fact, a prison year is only eight months. So, the 30 years this parasite got for murdering the security officer is really 20. He then only has to serve 60 per cent of those 20 years.
This begs the question: have we lost sight of the retributive aspect of justice?
In our attempt to move away from the 'an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth' situations, have we forgotten that the punishment should match the crime?
Really, why was this murderer not shot dead by the State as per execution protocols in China?
Is justice really being served if killers are not themselves killed as they are in many states in the USA? A country we worship that we dared not vote against when the United Nations held a resolution regarding America moving its embassy to Jerusalem, which is technically occupied by Israel?
We try to be so civilised that our treatment of the true victims of murder – the security officer, his family, the lady who spoke out and was killed, her children and the victims of her child – are ignored. They are the accumulated victims of this selfish animal who killed for a blasted spin barrel Taurus pistol and six lousy rounds of ammunition.
Yet, he gets to come out almost the same time the most disguised of all his victims — the killer he helped create — is going in.
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