am in strong disapproval of the type of magistrates we have serving throughout the territory of Guyana. This columnist’s inflexible opinion is that almost 99 percent of them should not be dispensing justice, because I don’t think they are endowed to do so. I hold emotionally to the viewpoint that Chief Magistrate McLennan should not hold that position.
I have done several columns criticising the judgements of these magistrates, and on no occasion have I written a word of approval. I will do so now in relation to Magistrate Leron Daly. Bounty Supermarket on Regent Street had a Venezuelan woman charged for shoplifting goods worth US$25.
Life is so ironic in this wasteland of a country. One of the richest families in the Caribbean that owns the supermarket arrested a poor woman fleeing a horrific breakdown in her country. To remind readers, it is this same family that wants to facilitate a foreign company to build a warehouse to store dangerous chemicals for the petroleum industry on land that the family owns in Ruimveldt.
I guess this is life in Guyana, where the heart of people died a long time ago. Laws are not made in cement. Even if she had committed an illegal act, the heart dictates punishment. She is a woman who fled a country that has broken down. Where was humanity here? Couldn’t this super-rich family recognise her plight and give her a warning?
I now will become the devil’s advocate. The woman is an Afro-Venezuelan. If she were a white Briton or white American, would this family have charged her? What do you think?
I remember doing a column on the Kitty branch of that supermarket on an incident that was unacceptable (see my piece for Thursday, December 14, 2017 captioned “In Guyana, signs of psychic breakdown are ubiquitous.”). A member of this family read the article and called me on the phone. The conversation ended on an angry note from my side. She invited me to come to the supermarket for a gift. I remember my words well before I put down the phone, “Lady don’t patronise me.” No one can convince me that if the complainant were a white Guyanese or Portuguese, she would have been so condescending but I let her have my anger.
Magistrate Daly did a wonderful thing. She put the unrepresented convicted woman on three weeks of community service. Her task is to be done at the magistrate’s courts. Maybe she could have done it at the colossal chicken farm owned by this company at Timehri, at the back of which is an exclusive private resort, owned by you know who. Those who are reading this could buy something for that poor Venezuelan soul or maybe the family could repent and invite her to eat some chicken at their farm; she was arrested for stealing items among which was chicken.
While Daly did a nice thing on the bench, her colleague McLennan was at it again. She jailed a 19-year-old first offender, Imran Mohamed for 18 months for assaulting and stealing from his employer. The teen was unrepresented. We haven’t heard his side of the story. He was employed by the shop-owner and left the job two days before the incident. I don’t know if there was a breakdown in industrial relations and the youth went on a vendetta act. Of course, if an employer exploits you, that is not a reason to return to the workplace, beat up and steal from the employer.
He is a first offender and he is a teenager. So what is President Granger going to say about the indiscretions of these judicial officers? He wasn’t deterred by his reaction to a decision of the Chief Justice. He told reporters, her decision is her position and he has his position. So can’t the Head of State say something about those magistrates who are filling up the jail? The most horrific jail rampage occurred during the presidency of President Granger. The inmates burnt flat down to the ground, the central jail in the capital city.
For those who are not familiar with this incident, they should be informed that during the inferno, they took the inmates and housed them across the road in the sports bar of the prison wardens. The prisoners drank every bottle of alcohol and non-alcohol drink, then burned the club down.
Finally, we have the Public Security Minister who likes to use the words, “Haul ya ass,” when he gets annoyed with the media. Shouldn’t he tell some incompetent legal people; “Haul ya ass!”
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)