Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When Poverty and Illiteracy collide

All speculations have been put to rest, as relatives of the man who was killed at Christmas Falls on Friday last positively identified him as 21-year-old Otis Fiffee of Buxton, East Coast Demerara.

The positive identification was made at around noon yesterday by an aunt of the dead man, Jennifer Roberts, since Fiffee’s mother, Wendy Fiffee, was too distraught to do so herself.
This was after other relatives failed to confirm the identity of the dead man on Sunday when they visited the Georgetown Hospital mortuary. They had travelled to the city on Saturday after they had received a telephone call to check with the mortuary of the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Family members confirmed that they were able to ascertain that the dead man was indeed Otis Fifee from the publication of his photograph in the Kaieteur News.

“When I see he picture in the papers, I done know is he,” Roberts said.

Wendy Fiffee told this newspaper that she received a telephone call on Saturday informing her that her son might have been the man killed by Joint Services personnel during a confrontation some 90 miles from Kwakwani on Friday.

She was told to go to the Georgetown Public Hospital mortuary, where she would be able to identify him.However, the woman said, up to Sunday, while she was still hoping the dead man was not her son, she visited the hospital’s mortuary but could not bear going into the mortuary to identify the man. As such, the woman said, a Police rank showed her a photograph of the dead man, but she was not able to confirm the identity because of the quality of the photo.

“I just ain’t want go in deh (mortuary) and see me son lying down dead, so I ask me sister fuh go; but when we see the photo, everybody keep telling me is meh son,” the woman said.
She added that her worst fears were confirmed early in the morning after a relative brought her attention to the photograph on the front page of yesterday’s edition of the Kaieteur News.

Relatives say that the dead man’s body bore a gunshot wound to his right side jaw, to the chest, and to the right shoulder.

“As soon as ah see de picture in de papers, right away ah know is me son! Nobody can’t tell me now that he is nah me son, but he ain’t deserve that,” the grieving mother added.
The woman said she last saw her son, the second of four children, two years ago.
“Dis boy was a quiet boy, but after Police keep harassing he and dem other boys in the village, he run away from home and I never use to hear from he.”

His aunt, Wendy Roberts, said that she saw Otis Fiffee last November.

Fighting to hold back tears, the woman added that her son was a mere couple of months old when his father left the home, and she was forced to raise him on her own.

“He father left and ah do all kinda things fuh mind he and me other children; I try me best with he!”

The woman said that now that her son is dead and his name is calling in a series of killings, there is nothing she could say, since she was not aware of his activities over the past two years.

However, in a subsequent interview, she said that she was aware that he was following bad company and had spoken to him to change.

“I talk to he over and over! He get licks all. He used to say, ‘nah mind he business, people ah cochore and dem gun dead’ and all dem things,” the dead man’s mother told this newspaper.
“You feel bad about it, yeah, but wha you ghun do? You can’t do nothing; it done happen dat way already,” she added.

She could not say for sure what led her son into a life of crime, but suggested that it might have been the constant harassment of young villagers by the security forces.

“Everybody scared of the Police! The young men, when they see Police, they run fuh dey life. They ain’t gat fuh do nothing,” she pointed out.

She added that because of such incidents, no one feels safe in the community anymore; and as such, some have chosen to flee the community because of the constant harassment.

“I remember another lady son de run way because Police always picking he up; and de next time she see he back, he was dead! And the thing is when dem run away, you don’t hear from them until Police kill dem, and then you hear that dem responsible for a set ah killings,” one resident said.

Kaieteur News understands that one of Fiffee’s cousins was among three men slain by Police in a house at Non Pareil last year, during a botched robbery.

Within recent times, Buxton has been in a state of unrest after the law enforcement agencies declared the village a haven for criminal elements and have been trying to rid the community of the criminals.

Following both the Lusignan and Bartica killings, the Guyana Police Force issued wanted bulletins and photographs for six men, including the now dead Otis Fiffee, called ‘Mud Up’.

In a release issued by the Force, the men’s photographs were taken during a clandestine operation in Buxton.The names of five of the men were listed: Cecil Simeon, called Limpy; “Pan Head”; “Mud Up”; “Magic,” and “Chung Boy,” while the sixth person’s name was listed as unknown.

Last Friday, ranks from the Joint Services swooped down on the gang at their hideout some 300 miles up the Berbice River.

During the confrontation, Fiffee was killed while the ranks believe that they wounded others. One of the fleeing men was identified as wanted man Rondell Rawlins, called ‘Fine Man’.
Police say they saw blood along the trail the gunmen used.

Police stated that those who escaped with Rawlins included Richard Ramcharran, called ‘Uncle Willie,’ ‘Magic,’ and ‘Chung Boy’.

The ranks recovered three FN rifles, four shotguns, and a .32 revolver; two AK-47 magazines, seven FN rifle magazines, and several rounds of ammunition from the gunmen’s well-stocked hideout.

According to a statement, the three FN rifles were stolen from the Bartica Police Station during the armed attack on that community on February 17, 2008.

The .32 revolver and two of the shotguns were stolen from the home of Bartica miner Chunilall Babulall.The Joint Services ranks were said to have also found a diary which provided “incontrovertible evidence” of Rawlins’s planning and execution of the killings at Lusignan and Bartica.

The Police say that the wanted man also planned to take vengeance for the death of his sister, Marcyn King, who was shot dead as she was returning home from her place of employment, on March 10 last.

According to the statement, the diary also contained several telephone numbers.
Residents of Kwakwani, which is some 90 miles from the gunmen’s hideout, told Kaieteur News that a large Joint Services contingent was still present in the community.

The Skyvan aircraft and a helicopter could also be seen flying regularly, they said.

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