Clarendon murders a whole new level of crime, says GoldingTuesday, September 14, 2021
MAY PEN, Clarendon — Describing Sunday's brutal slaying of four people in Havana Heights as “a whole new level” of the crime plaguing the community, Opposition Leader Mark Golding said he and his team were compelled to visit to show residents that “we are not above them but we are here with them when they go through these intense periods of grief”.
Golding, along with People's National Party (PNP) members Senator Peter Bunting and Member of Parliament for Clarendon Southwestern Lothan Cousins, visited the grieving Clarendon community yesterday.
Bunting, who was born in Clarendon, is a former national security minister and Cousins represents the community in which the murders were committed.
“The community as a whole has been going through a series of incidents but this has taken it to a whole new level. Coming here and seeing all the children, meeting the mother of the two sisters who died, seeing the small room in which they were all put on a bed and then executed, it really is shocking,” said Golding. “The country is going through a lot with COVID out of control, murders like this happening, and then the stresses of the cost of living with prices going up. It is really a dismal situation and so, as leaders in the country, it is important that we get on the ground and show the people that we are here with them and we care about their plight.”
Thirty-three-year-old Tashana Whyte and her 25-year-old sister Sherona Whyte; Luke Newman, a 19-year-old chef; and Michael Salmon, a 25-year-old construction worker were all killed at their home in Havana Heights, Phase Three. The police theorise that the killers were in search of a relative of the sisters. The four were rounded up by assailants who kicked in their doors to gain entry. They were shot in their heads and torso.
Six suspects who were picked up by the police in a neighbouring community on Sunday are still being questioned as the police continue their investigation.
“We are calling on the minister of national security and commissioner of police and the chief of defence staff to ensure that there is adequate security in this area. It needs to be contained now so the community can be freed of trauma and grief; and we will be trying to assist them,” Golding said.
Cousins, who said the Government's approach to crime fighting is flawed, pointed to community policing as a key tool that should be used in the fight against crime and violence. That was a strategy successfully used in the past by the PNP, he maintained. “Building fancy police stations all across Jamaica is not going to lead to a downward trend in crime. What happened in 2016 that contributed to the serious decline in crime under the PNP Administration needs to be revisited,” he said.
Bunting said he was “disappointed” that there had been no visible presence of the “security forces” in the area that could have acted as a deterrent to the early morning crime.
“A quadruple murder is not an everyday thing and the four victims, as far as we can tell, are not involved in any criminal activity. They were innocent young people. And the trauma to the young children who observed the murders must cause indescribable pain to the victims, the families and observers, and the entire community. We need more initiative from the ministry and minister of national security [as well as] from the security forces,” he said. “They have more resources now than any ministry has had for decades and they must use those resources for the benefit of the communities.”
Added Bunting: “Crime prevention requires social investment in these communities. This Administration has abandoned our initiative around social investment and partnership, training violence interrupters through the Peace Management Initiative to break the cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals. These won't necessarily cost a lot of money, but just to spend it in a targeted way could improve the quality of life and safety and security of the people tremendously. But what we have seen is a mismanagement of the resources that they have.”