Intra-family crime on the rise in Hanover — Chang
Security Minister Horace Chang (second right) and Hanover Western Member of Parliament Tamika Davis (third left) dialogue on Sunday with Nordia Edwards (third right), mother of slain nine-year-old Nikita Noel, and the child’s uncle-in-law (second left), who did not want his name used. Looking on are Deputy Superintendent of Police Rowan Fletcher (left) Easton Edwards, councillor, Lucea Division. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

KEW, Hanover — Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang has argued that intra-family crime could be on the rise in Hanover, while lamenting the killing of nine-year-old Nikita Noel in the parish last Wednesday.

"This is a major tragedy for someone to be brutal in the rape and strangling of a nine-year-old child. It is a crime that is difficult to comprehend," said Dr Chang during a visit to the family of young Noel last Sunday.

Nikita, commonly called Joanna, is believed to have been raped before she was said to be strangled, a short distance from her house.

Dr Chang said while there are initiatives in place and his ministry is doing all it can to interact with troubled individuals, what happened to Nikita is beyond extreme.

"While we have some content that will help, this is extreme. We still fully don't understand what could call for this kind of criminality," stated Dr Chang.

The intimate partner of Nordia Edwards, the mother of Nikita, is currently in protective custody, and Clifford Chambers, assistant commissioner of police in charge of Area One, has indicated that he is the subject of the police probe.

"Investigators are comfortable to say that the person who is in custody is of prime interest to the investigation and are confident that a particular course will be taken soonest," ACP Chambers said last Thursday.

"We know that the mother's intimate partner, they had an issue between them and that is one of the lines of inquiry which is being followed," ACP Chambers added.

Against that background Dr Chang declared that: "The police are investigating, and I know that their forensic lab will be moving aggressively to identify or ensure that the evidence is available to bring the culprits to justice".

Chang said his team, which includes the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) Tamika Davis, Member of Parliament for Hanover Western; and Eastern Edwards, councillor for the Lucea Division (JLP), are among those providing support to Nikita's mother, Nordia Edwards, and the rest of the family.

Nikita reportedly left her school, Esher Primary, for her house in a taxi Wednesday afternoon.

The taxi reportedly left Nikita and others at the foot of a dirt road leading up a hill where her family lives.

However, she did not make it home, and her mother raised an alarm. A search was launched by residents and the police. Her body was found a few feet from the entrance to her house.

While some, including child advocate Betty Ann Blaine, founder of Hear the Children's Cry, have used the killing of Nikita to push their call for a proper transportation system for schoolchildren, Davis, who is also a mother, said the bigger discussion should be around how children are cared for collectively.

"Yes, ideally, you have a bus taking every child to their gate but I think that perhaps we should focus on taking care of our children, how we need to get back to a village raising our children, helping them to be safe," stated Davis.

"She did not wander off into a strange community. It wasn't after hours. It was approximately 4:00 pm — still early — and one would have expected that being so close to home she would have been safe, and that is not an unreasonable expectation. She is in her community, and this would have been something that she would have been doing since she was in grade four," Davis added.

For her part, Edwards was happy for the visit she received as she pointed out that while she has two sons, they are not living with her.

Nikita, her youngest child, is the only one who lived with her.

Edwards said it is difficult to cope as it is painful going to and getting up out of her bed and not seeing Nikita.

Anthony Lewis

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