– man arrested as Police probe
Government Pathologist Dr Nehaul Singh has confirmed that the woman who was found in her Hopetown Village, West Coast Berbice did not die of hypertension but was murdered.
The body of Vaulda Britton, 78, also called “Auntie Vaulda” was discovered in her home on Sunday and initially relatives believed she died as a result of her struggle with hypertension.
However, on Thursday a post mortem examination revealed she died from asphyxiation due to manual strangulation.
Relatives told this newspaper the elderly woman lives alone but her great nephew stayed with her for a few nights prior to her death.
According to the dead woman’s son, Randolph Britton, a Rural Constable, he received information of his mother’s demise on Sunday morning and travelled to Berbice and soon discovered the matter needed to be investigated. Britton said when he arrived at his mother’s home he was told the Police had not visited the house.
“I requested to go with a Police to see the body. So when we reach the mortuary and they open up the body I see a bruise on her nose and her cheek and her temple black and blue. So I show the Police it and told him that somebody can’t fall down and get all these marks. Then I see he take out his phone and start take some pictures,” the grieving son said.
The dead woman’s son told this newspaper that on Saturday his mother’s nephew related that he did not like how his aunty was looking and he would go spend the night with her. An eight-year-old granddaughter of the dead woman accompanied the nephew to spend the night at Britton’s house.
This newspaper was told that sometime during the night the eight-year-old woke up and did not see her grandmother lying next to her. The child reportedly told family that after she did not see her grandmother, she started to cry and her grandmother’s nephew came into the room where she was and scolded her for crying. She also related to family that her grandmother’s nephew was naked when he entered the room, but no one took her seriously.
According to reports, on Sunday morning the dead woman’s nephew told relatives to check on her since she was motionless. Relatives subsequently discovered the woman’s body, but thought she had died from hypertension.
However, on Monday, the very nephew grabbed his grandmother and threatened to rape her if she did not give him $10,000. This was reported to the Police and he was arrested. It was not until his arrest that relatives begun suspecting that he may have had a hand in his aunt’s death. It was then that the Police questioned the eight-year-old granddaughter and she related what occurred at her grandmother’s house on Saturday night.
Police have since confirmed that the woman’s nephew known as “Two Kick” will be charged for murder. He was recently released from prison having served a four-year sentence for larceny. Britton leaves to mourn eight children.
A Guyanese entertainer was among 13 persons charged following an investigation into the shipment of a quantity of guns and cocaine between Canada and South America.
The Guyanese DJ was identified as Dwidth Ferguson, 32, who is affiliated to a popular entertainment group. Guyana Times understands that the young man has disappeared off the radar since the interception of the 12 other men who were slapped with 46 charges in total.
Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), James Singh, when contacted, told Guyana Times that the Canadian authorities have been in contact with local law enforcement officers who were providing assistance. He added that the investigation was an active one at this point and he could not divulge any other information.
News out of Canada revealed that 12 people were arrested across the Greater Toronto Area in connection with a year-long investigation that saw cocaine, prescription pills and handguns being smuggled into Ontario from the United States and the Caribbean.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Chief Superintendent Rick Barnum said that since 2014, drugs would arrive at Pearson International Airport in luggage and other containers aboard planes arriving from California, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Guyana.
Most of the drugs were to be sold in the Greater Toronto Area, but some were shipped onwards to Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the same period of time, handguns traced back to Florida were brought into Canada, also via Pearson International Airport, Barnum said.
A number of searches were conducted earlier in the week in and around the Greater Toronto Area, leading to the seizure of 22 firearms, Cdn$146,000 in cash, four cars and a total of 123 kilograms of cocaine.
The Police Chief revealed that additional investigation by the team led to other arrests in the United States and Newfoundland.
He added that the 100 or more officers tasked with conducting the investigation succeeded by “being there when (the accused) let their guard down”.
“This industry of dealing drugs and firearms is really based on greed. Sometimes these folks are so greedy and think they’re so good at their game, but we’ll be there when they’re not,” he said.
The investigation, dubbed “Project Monto”, involved the OPP, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, York Regional Police, Peel Regional Police, Toronto Police, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and various law enforcement agencies from the United States.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon has committed the Government’s support to Region Nine (Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo) to ensure the impact of the dry season is vastly minimised and long-term solutions are found.
This commitment was given to Regional officials and residents on Wednesday, when the Minister of State visited to hear first-hand, how residents are being impacted during this season. Residents were also invited to provide their recommendations and offer possible solutions, which can be implemented by Government to ensure in the long run, the Region does not become severely affected during the dry months.
Even as long-term solutions were discussed, the Minister committed immediate support through the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) to ensure the provision of water purification tablets, watertanks and other related materials to combat the effects of the season, while the building of a warehouse in Lethem for the storage of food and other needed items is actively being pursued.
Minster Harmon assured residents the new administration will not neglect the communities, but will work assiduously to bring relief where needed.
“As your Government, we are your servants. We are here today to ensure that the service, which we provide to you, is a service that is of high quality. I came here because I am your servant. If there is a problem that affects you or any other person in this country, it is our responsibility to respond to it and we will do so diligently,” he said. The visit was spearheaded by the CDC Disaster Management team, along with support from the Ministries of Communities and the Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.
Among the delegation was CDC Director General, Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, Sherie Samantha Fedee Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Marlon Daniels, Ministry of Communities, Major Sean Welcome, Operations and Training Officer at the CDC and Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Bess, Staff Officer in the Defence Secretariat, Ministry of the Presidency.
Stopping first at Bina Hill in North Rupununi, Minister Harmon met with officials from the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), Surama, Aranaputa, Kwatamang and Rupertee, where he listened to the issues currently being faced by that district with regard to the dry season.
Randy Gilbert, Vice Chairman of the NRDDB told Minister Harmon the villages and entire Region, are battling during these months to ensure there is enough water for basic needs such as cooking, washing and bathing. To this end, Gilbert said cattle and farms are often neglected and heavy losses are incurred, since the water supply is not sufficient to sustain farming activities.
The NRDDB representative said Central Government’s help and support is immediately needed.
“Each year, there is a shortage of water during this season and we cannot allow it to persist as it is. We need deeper wells. Each community must have to get deeper wells. The wells we currently have are too shallow and not all communities have them so we really need to look at this. The residents are willing to dig deeper wells but we need support from the Government,” Gilbert said.
Over at Lethem and Sand Creek, Minister Harmon met with Regional Vice Chairman Carl Singh, representatives of the community, Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and other Ggovernment agencies, where similar sentiments were expressed.
The call was reiterated for deeper wells so that a larger volume of water can be stored to sustain the needs of communities during this period of the year. It was also expressed that there is a need for the provision of watertanks and other large storage apparatuses so that water can be conserved and managed during the dry season.
Residents also suggested that ‘Water Committees’ be set up in communities so as to ensure the valuable resource is carefully managed. They also called for the provision of dry season cassava sticks to protect the livelihood of farmers.
Govt’s mega salary increases scandal…
… calls for decision to be rescinded
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition came in for much criticism on Wednesday from the Opposition with respect to the massive pay hike they awarded themselves.
Earlier this year, when Guyana Times had reported that the new coalition was planning to give Cabinet Members a hefty salary increase, the new Government categorically denied this.
However, in the official Gazette dated September 25, 2015, it was revealed that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and all Government Ministers have been awarded a salary increase, which is much larger than what the Administration had given to public servants in its 2015 Budget.
On Wednesday, General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Clement Rohee called for the Government to rescind its decision to dole out such large increases in salaries for its Vice Presidents, Ministers and MPs.
During a media briefing at Freedom House, Rohee stated that this course of action taken by the APNU/AFC was “ugly”, politically motivated, and is evidence of the Government’s self-interest.
“Only two months ago…spokespersons in the Government were loud in their denials….that whopping salary increases were in the offing…allowing them to line their pockets with tax dollars,” said Rohee.
The PPP General Secretary emphasised that sometime in June, when the coalition came into power, its officials were trumpeting statements declaring that the Treasury was without funds and was, therefore, empty. This, he deems, was an act by the APNU/AFC to “dupe” the nation.
“The question now being asked is how with a bankrupt economy and an empty treasury can such whopping increases be afforded?” he questioned.
According to Rohee, the “big lie” has now been exposed for what it is and as such, this Administration will have to ‘take the blows’ from infuriated and offended Guyanese who will outwardly reject this “meat for the boys and bones for the workers’ salary increase(s)”.
On Tuesday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon had defended the increases, stating that persons need to be paid well by the Government if the Government wanted them to perform.
“I am not going to say that I make any apologies whatsoever for Ministers getting increase in salaries, they deserve it,” Minister Harmon had told the media.
Rohee further noted that “Chief apologist for the APNU/AFC Coalition Administration, Joseph Harmon had declared in June 2015 that APNU/AFC had essentially found the cupboard bare meaning that the public treasury had no money and that the “country was bankrupt…The APNU/AFC Coalition had promised to bring Guyanese ‘a lean and mean government’. Also, a “good life” was promised to all Guyanese and all of this has now ‘gone fuh channa’.”
In relation to Minister Harmon’s most recent statement on the matter, that is by increasing these salaries corruption will be prevented since Ministers will be motivated to work ‘harder’, Rohee said there is no evidence to support the Minister’s claim.
As such, the PPP General Secretary questioned the basis on which such a conclusion was formed by the State Minister.
“Where are the studies and data supported evidence showing that higher salaries will make a better politician or motivate elected Government officials to work harder?”
Guyana Times was further told by the PPP spokesman that the Party was not convinced that the “overgenerous” pay hikes are well-deserved.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo will be benefiting from a whopping $20,580,000 per annum, while the other Vice Presidents will each receive $11,135,064.
Under the APNU/AFC Government, a Cabinet Minister will be given a hefty sum of $10,439,124 – annually – more than $300,000 over previous Ministers and a Junior Minister or a Minister within a Ministry will be paid $8,346,492 per annum.
The Attorney General will receive the same amount of money that the Chancellor does and the Speaker of the National Assembly is slated to benefit from $10,39,124 every year (the same salary which a Cabinet Minister will be paid).
In addition to the increased salary for Prime Minister Nagamootoo of $1.7 million monthly, an increase of over $200,000 each month, he will be drawing vacation benefits and perks totalling more than another $500,000.
Additionally, every other member of the National Assembly is to be paid $2,402,532 each year.
Guyana Times further understands that the three other Vice Presidents positions, which did not exist under the PPP/C Administration, Sydney Allicock, Carl Greenidge, and Khemraj Ramjattan will earn some $1.13 million, double the $579,000 which they would have earned as Ministers. In addition, the vacations and other benefits are also $500,000.
The Cabinet Ministers, who are the 15 senior Ministers in Government, will now benefit from $1 million – an increase of over $400,000 or 74 per cent each month.
It must be noted that the 12 Ministers within the Ministries (Junior Ministers) will each earn $700,000 monthly and like their senior Ministers will be entitled to the $500,000 in benefits.
In addition to their huge salaries, all 27 Ministers will each be receiving a duty allowance, an entertainment allowance, $45,000 housing allowance, chauffeur allowance of over $100,000 and annual vacation allowance of $420,000.
– after allegedly finding man under bed
A triangular love affair turned deadly in the wee hours of Wednesday after a miner turned up at his reputed wife’s home
at Pike Street, Kitty and discovered a male under her bed.
Dead are Mark Moses and his reputed wife Amanda Mohan.
According to reports reaching Guyana Times, 25-year-old Moses of One Mile, Wismar, Linden, went to visit Mohan at her Lot 248 Pike Street home about 21:30h on Tuesday and found a male under her bed. Reports stated that he left the home, but returned about 04:30h with a gun and shot Mohan twice to the chest before turning the gun on himself.
The two were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital where 20-year-old Mohan was pronounced dead on arrival. Moses succumbed to his injuries some seven hours later.
According to information received, the young miner works in the interior and made a surprise visit to his reputed wife’s house, where he found an employee attached to Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Company hiding under the bed.
However, relatives of the dead woman are holding out that the person under the bed was actually a family friend and Moses might have misunderstood what he saw. The gentleman was reportedly in the woman’s bedroom playing games on her laptop when Moses entered the house, this newspaper was told.
Ryan Mohan, brother of the now deceased woman, said that Moses turned up at the house unannounced and as he went into his reputed wife’s bedroom, he realised something was amiss since she was breathing heavily.
Guyana Times was told that Moses enquired why Mohan was breathing heavily but she did not respond, prompting him to search the room.
This newspaper was told that Moses allowed the man to leave the house after which he reportedly pulled out a gun and
threatened to shoot Mohan. Mohan’s brother told this newspaper that his sister attempted to explain the situation to Moses, telling him that the young man was a family friend and her sister hid him under the bed so not to cause a misunderstanding.
The brother went on to say that Moses left the house although the mother of his child begged him to stay. He, however, returned at 04:30h and shot Mohan then himself.
Mohan’s brother said he heard the shots and ran to his sister’s bedroom where he saw her lying in a pool of blood, while Moses was lying on the bed. Moses, he noted, was panting for breath, but his sister, from all indications, was already dead.
He, along with a friend, picked up the couple and rushed them to the Georgetown Public Hospital where his sister was pronounced dead and the young man was taken into theatre for surgery but subsequently died at 11:00h.
At the home of the dead woman, relatives congregated to comfort the grieving family.
An uncle of the dead woman, who gave his name only as Farouk, said that he was in his apartment when he heard three gunshots and immediately rushed to the upper flat of the house where he saw his niece and Moses lying in a pool of blood. As he looked closer, he said, he saw a gun on the bed.
He added that the family was in shock at the manner in which Moses handled the situation.
Meanwhile, attempts to contact the relatives of the dead man proved futile. The Police have launched an investigation into the matter. An unlicensed .9mm pistol and three spent shells were recovered at the scene.
– two crew members arrested
A misunderstanding between several fishermen out at sea turned fatal, leaving one man dead and two others in Police
The dead man has been identified as Ronald Emanuel Reid called “Manny”, of Lot 25 Castello Housing Scheme, Georgetown. According to reports, the 27-year-old man sustained a fatal stab wound to his back. The incident occurred around 14:00h on Tuesday.
Police investigations have revealed that the incident occurred onboard a fishing boat off the Lichfield Foreshore, West Coast Berbice.
“Investigations have revealed that Ronald Emanuel Reid was involved in an argument during which he was fatally stabbed to his back. Two men have been arrested and are in Police custody assisting with the investigations,” the Police disclosed in a release.
Guyana Times understands that Reid has been working at sea for some seven years now and left for this trip about two weeks ago. Speaking to this newspaper, the dead man’s cousin Sonia Persaud related that they received a phone call about Reid’s death around 19:00h on Tuesday.
Persaud said that they were unsure what transpired, but were told that her cousin was killed since around 14:00h. She revealed that Reid spoke with his girl friend earlier in the day and told her that he had a misunderstanding with the Captain of the boat.
“He spoke to his girlfriend around 10:00h and told her he is trying to get a boat to come in from sea because he got in lil’ problems with some guy on the boat… He didn’t say what was the problem,” Persaud related.
This newspaper understands that Reid’s body was brought to shore sometime this morning. Persaud further detailed that when relatives went to identify and claim the body at the shore on Wednesday morning, they observed a single stab wound in his back.
“It look like he was apparently sleeping when they kill he or something… but I can’t say for sure because we ain’t get the full report as yet,” she added.
She added that based on reports received, it was two brothers who reportedly killed her cousin. “We were made to understand that this wasn’t the first time these two brothers murdered someone. It has occur a second time… they had worked in the Venezuela waters but came back to Guyana and started working Guyana waters,” she claimed.
The woman said she did not know the men nor could she say whether her cousin worked with them before this trip. Persaud, however, noted that Reid’s father knew them as he was also a fisherman. Persaud described her cousin as a cool and calm individual, noting that he was not confrontational.
Reid leaves to mourn his parents, younger brother along with several other foster-siblings and his girlfriend, who is currently two months pregnant with his first child. The police are continuing the investigations.
– as Chang slated to retire Feb
With the acting Chief Justice (CJ) Ian Chang soon to retire, the search has commenced for a new Chief Justice. This
could only happen, however, after meaningful consultations are done between the Government and the Opposition.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams on Wednesday disclosed that he was currently in discussion with President David Granger about recommendations for a new Chief Justice. Justice Chang, who has been acting in the position since 2000, is heading on pre-retirement leave.
“The question of a vacancy occurring in the Office of Chief Justice would arise very shortly and when the Chief Justice goes on leave, obviously somebody has to act in his position,” Williams told a news conference.
The CJ will be proceeding on more than 10 weeks of leave.
The constitutional reform process of 2000 introduced mechanisms for meaningful consultations with the Leader of the Opposition for certain appointments. The reform process itself made the approval of the Leader of the Opposition necessary for some appointments, particularly those of the Chancellor and Chief Justice.
By Michael Younge
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon on Wednesday defended the Cabinet’s decision to increase its own pay by millions of
dollars, declaring that it was “justified”.
Harmon made the comment after being plagued by a plethora of questions from sections of the local media following revelations by this newspaper that the four-month-old David Granger Government had increased the salaries of its Cabinet members by over $266, 119, 248 even in the face of widespread condemnation and concern by the public and other stakeholders.
When Guyana Times broke the story two months ago, the Government denied having deliberate intentions of implementing significant increases in the salaries of Executive Members and instead said that they were only being “considered”.
On September 25, following the Minister’s budgetary presentation in the National Assembly, the Government then gazetted the increases secretly without being forthcoming with the media and public that it had indeed worked out the scale, quantum and criterion for the increases which many believed were not going to be pursued within the new Government’s first months in office.
But State Minister Harmon on Tuesday said that the Government had to pay itself well if it wanted itself to perform well.
“It is justifiable, we cannot have a situation like the PPP where they were prepared to accept low salaries, because they were thieving money all over the place. We cannot have that,” the Minister stated.
“I am not going to say that I make any apologies whatsoever for Ministers getting increase in salaries, they deserve it,” he added.
Minister Harmon said that he would not work for the salary of $560, 000 paid by the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to Ministers of Government regardless of their rank.
“…That is money I paid to my attorneys who worked with me when I was in private practice…why should I be working for that…?” Minister Harmon protested.
The Minister’s statement sent shockwaves throughout the country given the fact that the new Government and its Ministers have only been in office for four months.
On social media, several Guyanese voiced their concerns over the Government’s decision to increase its pay by millions of dollars and compared that with what was being offered to the public servants by a seemingly pro-working class Government.
Additionally, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) President Komal Chand is quoted as describing the move as “callous” and “shocking”.
Under the order, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who vehemently protested the extravagant lifestyle of the former PPP/C Ministers and had condemned the super salaries paid to its Government officials, will now receive an increased salary of over $20, 580, 000 annually.
The three other Vice Presidents (Khemraj Ramjattan, Carl Greenidge and Sydney Allicock) who will now pocket $11, 135, 064 annually will altogether cost the public purse $33, 405, 192 per annum.
Surprisingly, no official figure was released for Attorney General Basil Williams’ salary, but Guyana Times learnt that he could earn over $18, 000, 000.
Additionally, no figures were released yet for increases in the President’s salary which Guyana Times understands may have been jacked up to a whopping $2,000, 000 minus allowances and benefits.
The Senior Ministers in Government namely Catherine Hughes, Joseph Harmon, Ronald Bulkan, Noel Holder, Amna Ally, Winston Felix, Rupert Roopnaraine, Raphael Trotman, Dr George Norton, David Patterson, Dominic Gaskin, Volda Lawrence and Winston Jordan will cost the public purse over $10, 439, 124 per annum. Altogether, they will rack up a bill of $135, 708, 612 annually.
In addition, the Junior Ministers namely Jaipaul Sharma, Simona Broomes, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Annette Ferguson, Nicolette Henry, Karen Cummings and Keith Scott will pocket $8, 346, 492 annually. Altogether the public purse will be charged $58,425, 444 per annum for these recently-appointed Ministers.
Each Minister of Government is entitled to benefits and allowances which amount to over $500, 000 per month.
Given this rate, all of the Ministers’ and their benefits could cost the treasury $13,500, 000 monthly and $162, 000, 000 at the end of one year.
In addition to their huge salaries and benefits, all 27 Ministers will each be receiving a duty allowance, an entertainment allowance, $45,000 housing allowance; and chauffeur allowance of over $100,000.
It must be reminded that ironically both APNU and the AFC, prior to taking office in May 2015, had vigorously spoken out against the “abuse” of taxpayers’ money to fill the pockets of “greedy” Government officials.
Carl Greenidge, the then Shadow Finance Minister, had even written a letter to the Stabroek News just before the elections, in which he complained about the “lifestyle” of PPP/C Ministers.
“PPP Ministers have always paid themselves higher salaries than existed prior to their assumption of office…By 2014, the Minister of Finance was receiving $579, 951, and today the PPP Ministers’ vacation allowance at $420,000 is ten times the minimum wage.”
In August, former President Bharrat Jagdeo had stated that the coalition Government had ‘duped’ the Guyanese populace when it had highlighted its proposed salary increases for public servants in the 2015 National Budget.
He said it was “nothing spectacular”, and was less in comparison to what his Party, while in power, had been offering. (firstname.lastname@example.org)