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…mother of injured Rupununi woman allegedly shot by REO
By Alva Solomon
While police are now deeming a shooting incident involving the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Nine, Karl Singh “accidental” rather than “attempted murder” as they initially stated, the mother of the victim says she will not accept any form of compensation for her injured daughter until the matter passes through the courts.
Singh who was initially arrested has since been released from police custody. Police said the matter is still being investigated. Sometime before 1 am on Wednesday, 25-year old Gladys Emmanuel sustained a gunshot wound to her abdomen while she was in a vehicle in the company of Singh in the vicinity of the Main Access road near the Kanuku Hotel at the town of Lethem. The police initially stated that the 33-year old Singh attempted to murder the victim but on Thursday night, the lawmen said it a statement that the shooting was accidental. Emmanuel, who is a pharmacist, remains hospitalised.
Her mother, Valerie George, who was speaking on Member of Parliament, Sherod Duncan’s live programme “In the Ring” on Thursday evening, recounted the ordeal even as she held out that she is seeking justice for her daughter. The woman’s mother said sometime before 1 am on Wednesday, her daughter called her and informed that that she was shot and she should visit the Lethem Regional Hospital.
George said when she arrived at the hospital, she saw the REO and several men and soon after he went into a room with the doctor. When he emerged he pointed her out to the doctor. She said she then asked the REO if he was with her daughter at the time she was shot.
REO accused of lying
“He said yes, I was with her, I didn’t carry her out but I offered to bring them home, “the man told the worried woman. George said the REO then informed her that her daughter “stabbed herself” and he alleged that he also had a gun in the vehicle at the time of the alleged stabbing. “That is the exact thing he told me at the time,” she said, noting that she was confused.
The woman said at that point she saw scratch marks on the REO’s left arm and she got even more confused since her daughter told her minutes earlier on the phone that she was shot. She said the REO also offered to take care of any medical expenses for the injured woman. The woman said she then entered the room where she saw her daughter but the young woman was unconscious.
The woman said she left the hospital sometime around 3 am on Wednesday since she got no further word from the doctors on duty about her daughter’s condition. Several hours later she went back to the Lethem Hospital and she noted that it appeared someone was there to visit her daughter. She alleged that the police turned up at the hospital and insisted that they wanted to take a statement from the injured woman. She said the police managed to take a statement and asked the victim to sign same.
In the statement, the injured woman told the police that she was with several others including her friends and her elder sister at a business spot and they were about to leave for home when the REO offered to drop the injured woman home. While she waited in the vehicle, the REO entered and the victim alleged that she only heard when the official cranked a gun.
“He cranked the gun and the gun fire-off, “the injured woman told the police. George alleged that the REO lied to her when he initially informed her that she was stabbed. “My daughter wouldn’t be normal anymore,” she said.
The woman said the doctors could not find the exit point of the bullet and it was not until Thursday morning that the doctors managed to remove the bullet.
Offered a bribe
George said that when she visited her daughter later on Wednesday morning, the injured woman enquired whether anyone had called her father. “She said mommy anybody called daddy,” she recalled her asking. The woman said she responded in the negative and her daughter informed that “some lawyer” wanted to speak to her father.
The woman recalled that when her daughter was giving her statement to the police she saw a large mark below her neck from the chest up. The woman said she strongly believes that there was a scuffle between her daughter and the REO, noting that it appeared the two had a scramble.
She said on Thursday, a man who works with the REO visited the family and he told her that whatever help she needed it would be made available. She said the man offered a sum of $100,000 but the woman said she refused the money even as she informed the man that it is her only child who is gainfully employed. ” I said I will not accept your money, even if you offer me $10 million dollars that will not bring back my daughter to what she was. I said I can lose $10 million dollars and work for it back,” George told the man.
She said she does not work and her husband, former Toshao of St Ignatius, Dennis Benedict is sickly and he is unable to work. “Any help I will receive is after court, it must go to the court,” the woman’s mother insisted, noting that she is not accepting any form of compensation until the matter is passed through the courts.
“Thank God that she is alive today, and when she comes out of the hospital, I am the mother and I have to look after her,” she said.
George reiterated that she will not see the matter “go down just like this” noting that she is thinking about all young indigenous women as she seeks justice for her daughter. “We must not be suffering like this all the time, rich people must not be mashing us down, we have equal rights as human beings, “she added.
Police released Singh on bail sometime on Thursday and he was expected to return to the police station at Lethem on Friday. The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the region and farther afield as many have noted the silence of indigenous leaders and women’s rights groups. Women at the town of Lethem and within the Rupununi have called on the authorities to fully investigate the matter while residents of the region said they believe the matter will be swept under the carpet.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lenox Shuman, who campaigned on indigenous rights issues at the last general elections said on his Facebook page that “it is an outright racists idea “that everything which occurs within the indigenous community falls under his domain.” He said that he will await the findings of the police before he is guided.
Meanwhile, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, opposition MP Geeta Chandan-Edmond in a statement condemned what she described as “the abhorrent and abominable shooting of 25-year old indigenous woman Gladys Emmanuel.”
Chandan-Edmond said that the police report indicates that the incident occurred at about 01:00hrs in Singh’s pickup on the main access road at Lethem in the vicinity of Kanuku Lodge. “Every life is precious in our dear beloved Guyana and the attempt to end the life of one of our precious citizens, especially a young promising woman, is sadistic and inhumane. Though far less significant, I also note that this incident occurred in breach of the COVID curfew measures. This development is symptomatic of the breakdown in law and order in our society since August 2nd, 2020. The Guyanese people have witnessed a significant increase of violence against women and this latest heinous violation of one of our young indigenous women allegedly hands of a high-ranking PPP official must be condemned by all Guyanese.” The MP called for a thorough investigation of this incident, free from political interference. She said the investigation must be concluded speedily so that the all wrongdoing must be dealt with condignly to the fullest extent of the law. She also called for Mr. Singh, a public officer, to be suspended from all official duties as REO forthwith and for the duration of the investigation. Chandan-Edmond also called for women’s organisations, indigenous organisations and all right thinking Guyana to stand up and speak out against the unwarranted violence meted out against our indigenous sister Gladys Emmanuel and on the relentless attacks on our womenfolk. She also urged the PPP and its leadership to resist any temptations or entreaties to intervene or to pervert the course of justice in this grave matter and allow the law to run its full course without let or hindrance.