Dellon Morgan, Mark Bond, Kasey Helligar and Roberto Sankar were on Tuesday remanded to prison for armed robbery by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
The first charge read that the four men, on January 30, 2017 at Pigeon Island, East Coast Demerara, while armed with a dangerous weapon, robbed Virtual Complainant (VC) Dexter Lowe of a 1.3 Taurus pistol valued at G$179,000, along with G$7000 cash.
In addition, the men, armed with a firearm, robbed Junior Cheong of G$1, 000,200, property of the said VC.
The defendants were not required to plead to the indictable charges.
Morgan, Bond and Helligar were represented by Attorney Adrian Thompson. The court heard that Morgan was a 21-year-old construction worker residing in Kitty, Georgetown and the father of a one-year-old.
Bond, on the other hand, is a 46-year-old father of three and also a resident of Kitty, while Helligar is a carpenter by trade with two small children.
Thompson related that his clients were picked up 10 days ago in Kitty and were kept at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary; and the Sparendaam and Diamond stations during the said time, postulating that Bond and Helligar were never picked out during an ID parade, although Morgan was. He continued that it was not understandable why 10 days later, the investigation was still incomplete.
Meanwhile, Sankar’s defence counsel explained that her client was the Manager of a restaurant at Pigeon Island and did not at any point in time provide an oral or written confession to Police ranks, as stated in various news articles.
Prosecutor Deniro Jones objected to bail based on the gravity of the offence, the fact that a weapon was used in the commission of the crime, and the penalty attached to the felony.
In addition, he posited that Sankar was the mastermind of the crime and had admitted to his involvement. Magistrate McLennan denied bail in the absence of special circumstances and remanded the men to prison. The matter was adjourned to March 21, 2017.
Bond and Sankar were escorted out of the courtroom, while Helligar and Morgan remained to answer to additional charges.
It was alleged that Junior Stuart, 31, of Kitty; Morgan; Helligar and Richard Seenarine, 29, also of Kitty, on March 4, 2017 robbed Aron Akbar of G$80,000 cash. The men on the same day allegedly robbed Esau Akbar of G$7000 and one cellular phone valued at G$15,000.
Bail was objected to by the prosecution based on the gravity and seriousness of the offence, and the fact that Stuart has pending matters of similar nature before the courts.
The Chief Magistrate denied bail and the men were placed on remand. The matter continues on March 21 at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The Carvil Duncan legal challenge against the tribunal that was set up to determine if he could remain in several constitutional posts while charges were being prosecuted against him continued at the High Court.
The matter is being heard by Justice Franklin Holder. Duncan, who was suspended as Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC), took the stand on Wednesday, when Attorney General Basil Williams, SC, grilled him for several hours about how mail was received at the PSC.
A “did he or didn’t he” aspect of the matter relating to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was the high point of the nearly three-hour court session. The Prime Minister had contended that he dispatched a letter to Duncan’s office informing him of the Executive’s decision to establish a tribunal to determine if he was fit to continue serving in his constitutional offices in light of several charges he was facing at the time.
Nagamootoo, who is expected to take the stand soon, had also disclosed that the letter, as required by the Constitution of Guyana, invited Duncan to show cause why the tribunal should not be set up. But when Duncan testified on Wednesday, he held out that he never received the correspondence.
In light of this, AG Williams spent hours attempting to ascertain information regarding the procedures of how mail was received, handled, categorised and distributed at the PSC and to its Chairman.
“Are you aware that mail that comes to the Chairman is categorised as urgent or confidential?” the AG asked Duncan in court.
“All mails addressed to the Chairman of the Public Services Commission are handed to the Secretary of the Chairman…by one of the office assistants,” Duncan responded, in one of multiple exchanges between the two men. Duncan revealed that mail “received downstairs” was not computerised.
At several intervals, Justice Holder had to intervene and clarify many of the statements that the witness disclosed in court. At one point, the AG angrily expressed that Anil Nandlall, who is representing Duncan, was “trying to prompt the witness”, and Nandlall repeatedly objected to the AG’s line of questioning, suggesting that the AG was asking the same questions in repetition.
After the matter was adjourned, Nandlall, the former Attorney General, remarked that much of Wednesday’s session was “wasted in trying to understand the mailing system at the Public Service Commission”. Speaking with members of the media, Nandlall pointed out that AG Williams should have asked questions relating to the letter that Duncan was said to have received.
Nandlall also disputed the materialness of the questions regarding the mailing procedures at the PSC.
“In my view, it’s totally irrelevant, because at the end of the day, even if the mail was received into the system at the PSC, the issue is that Carvil Duncan [didn’t] received the mail and the AG can’t seem to get that under cross-examination and [he] stayed away from that deliberately while confusing the whole issue with asking a whole set of irrelevant questions about where documents are stored,” the former Legal Affairs Minister told the media.
Justice Holder, in October 2016, suspended the work of the presidential tribunal following an injunction, which was filed by Nandlall.
Nandlall had argued that the tribunal was an unlawful and unconstitutional course of action since Duncan at the time was not found guilty of the charges. However, President David Granger had suspended Duncan from several constitutional posts, which included being a member of the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission.
Subsequently, city Magistrate Leron Daly dismissed one of the charges against Duncan. Duncan was facing a charge which stated that on March 31, 2015 at Georgetown, he stole G$984,900, property of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL).
Duncan still faces a conspiracy charge which stated that between May 7 and May 8, 2015, he conspired with then Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of GPL, Aeshwar Deonarine to steal G$27,757,547, property of the power company. Duncan had also alleged that he was offered money by both the President and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon to vacate his offices, a claim which the Government had denied.
The High Court matter will continue next Thursday before Justice Holder at 09:30h. (Shemuel Fanfair)
The first phase of the feasibility study for a new Demerara River bridge crossing has been completed with several locations identified.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, along with a team from the Ministry, and General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation, Rawlston Adams, met with LievenseCSO on Monday, where they discussed the study.
Arie Mol of the Dutch company, led the presentation of the study which began in January this year. In his presentation, Mol touched on a number of points, including river/marine traffic, river modelling, and economic and environmental considerations. He also highlighted a number of possible locations for the new river crossing, including New Hope, Peter’s Hall, Eccles, and Houston, with lengths ranging from approximately 580 metres to just under 2000 metres.
A more detailed presentation of the feasibility study is expected to be made at a later date. Additionally, draft reports will be made to Cabinet and then open to consultation by the second week of April.
The feasibility study, which costs $146.3 million (US$706,091) and approved by Cabinet last year, following a proposal submitted from Dutch company, for it to conduct the feasibility study and design of a new bridge across the Demerara River, linking Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Four (Demerara-Mahaica). The study is expected to be completed in July.
The contract between the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) and the Dutch company was signed on December 9, 2016, during which Arie Mol, Advisor to the CEO of LievenseCSO, committed to ensuring that all schedules are met and completed on time.
Floating at 1.25 miles, the Demerara Harbour Bridge is a strategic link between the eastern and western banks of the Demerara River. It facilitates the daily movement of a large numbers of vehicles, people and cargo. The structure was built in the 1970s, but was opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting only 10 years. However, some 37 years later, it is still floating.
In 2013, the Bridge Corporation, in collaboration with the then Public Works Ministry, had carried out a pre-feasibility study. That study concluded that a ‘fixed high level’ bridge was the best option to pursue.
The study considered the model, the tender documents and the sites proposed, and it will also make the final pronouncement on whether or not the construction is something that the country can go forward with.
Seven hundred and sixty eight families are expected to be housed in the first phase of the implementation of Government’s’ new housing programme. Members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) are among those targeted to benefit.
Minister within the Communities Ministry with responsibility for housing, Valerie Adams-Patterson and a team from the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) on Wednesday engaged Police ranks stationed in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) on Government’s Housing Solutions for State employees. The sides met at the GPF’s Training Centre at Camp and Young Streets, Eve Leary, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said in a release.
The Minister’s team comprised CH&PA’s Operations Director, Denise Tudor-King and acting Project Director Omar Narine.
“We have come to you today [Wednesday], to share the new vision of this Government, and to let you know that we are working on your behalf and we are working to ensure that each of you own your home,” Minister Adams-Patterson told the ranks.
The Minister said Government will be maximising the use of its available service lands to offer a range of housing solutions that will cater to their needs, and those of other low-, moderate- and middle-income persons, the release stated.
Adams-Patterson stated that the CH&PA’s focus right now is to build duplexes and townhouses. She explained that these types of houses will accommodate a larger number of families as compared to giving house lots.
Meanwhile, the ranks heard from Narine that initially 265 buildings will be constructed and that these will be divided into 768 units, each housing a family. Narine explained that each duplex will house two families and each townhouse, six families.
He explained that the townhouses’ dimension will be 22 x 26 square feet and the duplexes, 20x 40 square feet. He said that both housing options provide for units comprising two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and indoor toilet and bath.
The engagement with Police ranks is part of an ongoing exercise organised by the CH&PA, in collaboration with the Guyana Police Association. The exercise is in fulfillment of a commitment made to the Association to address with urgency the housing needs of Policemen and women.
As per this commitment, CH&PA in 2016, met with ranks in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and allocated house lots at prices ranging from G$92,000 to G$1.5 million.
I am writing in protest of action to be taken by the APNU/AFC Coalition Government that would, I believe, threaten my rights and freedoms as a Guyanese citizen, especially since this action is to be taken without any form of consultation.
When I voted in May 2015, it was clear in my mind that I wanted change: I wanted to see different people in charge of the Government, different people leading policies, and different people engaged in solving our problems. Now, nearly two years later, I must say that I am somewhat disappointed, because the coalition Government has taken a piece of legislation that was essentially drafted by the previous PPP government and has decided to bring it into law without public debate or sensitization. What arrogance!! The piece of legislation has far-reaching implications for everyone, smokers and non-smokers alike.
The Coalition Government is considering the passage of the Anti-Tobacco Legislation which, as it stands now, proposes a ban on smoking in public places, including one’s home. Nothing is wrong with a ban on smoking in public spaces, but as I understand it, the legislation defines my private home as public space if persons are employed by me as general help, gardener, babysitter, or household help. If any one of these persons is employed in your private home, it is subject to the full force of the new legislation.
Therefore, if you are a smoker like me, and you happen to employ one of those persons listed above, under the new legislation you are not allowed to smoke in the your own home because of the presence of your employee(s). This renders/renders your home a “public space” subject to the vagaries of the legislation.
The ban on smoking in public places also prevents you from smoking in your private vehicle, if the said vehicle is being used to transport others.
Declaring what is public places and private spaces is already a controversial topic. However, when one’s home and private vehicle are added into the mix, it becomes an issue about which every Guyanese should be concerned.
This legislation proposes to trespass upon our constitutional rights and freedoms, and the Government doesn’t see it appropriate to have an open debate on its implication for the entire society. One of the many disappointments taken from this situation thus far, as it unfolds in the days or weeks ahead, is that I really don’t see the change I voted for in the way the Coalition Government has so far approached the pending Anti-tobacco legislation.
It is clear to everyone that this Government has officially conducted more questionable purchases of Drugs than they had accused the PPP of. For nearly two years now the MOPH has failed to build on the improvements made by the previous Government in strengthening the Supply Chain System of medicines and supplies nationwide.
What makes it more glaring, is the fact that they have established a Procurement Commission while the actions with regards to drug purchases has gotten worst. The recent so-called emergency purchase of drugs for GPHC at a whopping G$605 Million, plus an additional G$900 Million for other hospitals are only recent events of gross misconduct in the Procurement System.
We had the infamous bottom house bond being paid over G$12 Million per month to store condoms and a few other items. It is still unsure whether the items stored in that bond are even valued more than the rent itself.
Some say that Minister Lawrence is new to the role and she should be given some slack on this matter, but I say that’s a very expensive price for the tax payers. I would like to remind you that Minister Lawrence was the Chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee for several years while the PPP was in power and she led an overly aggressive fight against the PPP led Ministry of Health for what they called gross violations in the health procurement system. Now the violations she chastised the PPP for is nothing compare to what’s happening now.
But more interestingly, is the fact that this Minister has chosen to take lower level procurement staff and throw them to the fire that APNU started.
We must also take note of the large sums of tax payer’s money that is now being paid to foreign companies like AnsaMcal, while Guyana is drained of foreign currencies. The people must realize sooner than later, that APNU is not a Government for the people but more a Government for foreign companies.
The recent outburst of Major (Rtd) Aubrey Heath-Retemeyer, CEO of the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), is the latest example of the constant denouncing of groups and individuals who have expressed reservations about aspects of the SARU Bill. This behaviour reinforces an impression that the agency is not overly concerned about putting in place the impartial, broad-based national anti-corruption programme that Guyana so urgently requires.
Indeed, SARU’s constant and excessive allegations are fragmenting the broad national consensus on anti-corruption which contributed significantly to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition electoral victory. From what ought to be the easiest issue on which to generate formidable national support, SARU has succeeded in politically polarising the society, as reflected in the heavy list of speakers that forced consideration of the SARU Bill to be postponed in the last session of Parliament.
SARU by these and related actions is succeeding in creating the impression that it seriously lacks the political judgment and skills needed to assure the success of the technical and legal aspects of its mandate. The price of the evangelical animosity towards the major Opposition party employed by the head of SARU since its inception and taken up recently by its CEO will be counted in terms of constitutional reform, electoral issues and all matters that require cooperation of the major Opposition.
Major Heath-Retemeyer’s criticism of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) in questioning “where the GHRA was when hundreds of young men lost their lives with no steadfast commitment to pursue justice…” is a trite and quite misplaced response to the GHRA’s comments and criticisms of sections of the SARU Bill.
For his information, while acknowledging the need for the nation to confront those deaths, the GHRA is at least on record at the time as having denounced them. Which prompts the question as to where the zealous Major and his military organisation were at that time. This new-found sensitivity to “the tears of parents and wives and children” stands in marked contrast to its silence when the deaths were generating the tears.
The GHRA collaborated closely in the early stages of setting up the SARU. This civil society organisation continues to fully support a vigorous anti-corruption programme, incorporating preventative measures as well as asset recovery and criminal action.
However, the anti-corruption drive is contaminated when corruption is effectively interpreted as beginning and ending with the last Administration. Rehabilitating the impartiality of SARU will be an up-hill task, notwithstanding Major Heath-Retemeyer’s belated assurance that members of the current Administration suspected of corrupt acts would also be pursued.
There are many imaginative and indeed successful anti-corruption programmes in existence around the world. Guyana does not have to re-invent the wheel. The common feature running through them is that while anti-corruption is a crowd-pleaser, it requires shrewd political skills to achieve.
Guyana HumanRights Association
The presence of large numbers of Indo-Guyanese and other Indo-Caribbean Hindus in selected locations in America and the organising skills of community leaders have made it possible for Phagwah to be celebrated with the same traditions as brought to the West by their ancestors from Mother India to the Caribbean (Guyana, etc) and from there to America. The spirit of Holi has truly traversed a great distance. Phagwah or Holi is the most popular Hindu festival observed in New York City attracting the largest crowd of revellers with Guyanese in the thick of things – as organisers and celebrants. This weekend, NY Hindus celebrated Holi with a mela on Saturday evening at various mandirs, including AryaSamaj, Tulsi, Trimurthi, Lakshmi, etc. Parades in Queens, the Bronx and Jersey City were scheduled for Sunday. Hindus in Florida will also celebrate the festival in the Orlando area. It is because large numbers of Hindus are settled in these areas that Phagwah and other popular Indo-Caribbean festivals are celebrated there.
The organisers of Holi celebrations across the USA need to be applauded for their hard work in making the Phagwah festivities possible. They put a lot of time and effort and their personal money to ensure the success of the planned events. They have helped to institutionalise traditional Indo-Caribbean customs and traditions in this new land. It is through their vision that Indo-Caribbeans are able to celebrate this and other festivals just like they did or do back in Guyana.
For Phagwah, unlike in the Caribbean, it is not possible to go house to house to celebrate Phagwah. It is not a public holiday. Instead, people come together in one central location (as in Florida or Richmond Hill or Bronx, or Jersey City) to observe the festival. Hence the focus on a parade and a mela in a public park. The parade has always been observed on the Sunday (Phagwah falls on Sunday this year) after its official observance and is usually a time of extreme excitement and revelry (singing, dancing, etc.).
These central celebrations bring together tens of thousands to observe the colourful festival with people splashing colours on each other. It fosters unity among various groups of people promoting a common feeling of togetherness. As in Guyana or Trinidad, Hindus, Muslims and Christians all partake in the celebrations in a true show of strength of the Indo-Caribbean community in the city. There are also many non-Indians at the celebrations which help to promote harmonious ethnic relations. It also gives non-Indians an opportunity to understand one aspect of Indian culture.
For the last 19 years, Holi has been celebrated in grand style with the annual parade which takes on a carnival-like atmosphere. The parade was launched in 1990, thanks to the work of Kali, PanditRamlall, PanditSatish, etc) and it has now become institutionalised as part of the celebration of the Phagwah festival attracting politicians and community leaders. Thus, the initiators of the Liberty Avenue parade deserve the highest praises for conceiving the parade, which showcases the community’s numbers and gives political recognition to the community. An aura of Holi is in the air.
In addition to the parade, there are also Phagwah festivities at various clubs, temples, mandirs, and catering halls. There are glittering cultural variety shows, pageants with modelling of latest Indian designs and other festivities during the weekends preceding and following the official observance of the festival. Temple members have been engaging in chowtal singing over the last several Sundays. Some temples held celebrations to coincide with the holiday on Wednesday evening. The melas and the parades help to advance a sense of togetherness that enhances pride and admiration for the rich cultural heritage that was handed down by the indentured servants from India.
On Sunday, the celebration culminated with the parade. Delicacies (bara, gulgula, phulourie, bigany, mango or tamarind chutney, potato ball, prasad, channa, ghoja, mahambhoog, kheer or sweet rice, among others) and beverages were served.
…during Holi celebrations in Guyana
While the celebration of Holi has strengthened the bond among Hindus in Guyana, it has also extended that bond to other religious and ethnic groups. President David Grangermade these comments to hundreds of Guyanese of all races, who gathered at the Indian Cultural Centre in Bel Air, to celebrate Holi (Phagwah), the festival of colours.
The President, who participated in the traditional Phagwah play, said that that the celebration is even more joyful, this year as the nation commemorates the centenary of the abolition of Indian indentured immigration. “Holi has been a source of solidarity and sustenance, during and beyond the period of indentured immigration… Holi has reinforced the link with the motherland and re-established cultural connections,” he said.
Following the arrival of about 240,000 Indian indentured immigrants in British Guyana between 1838 and 1917, President Granger said that the Hindu faith served as a source of strength throughout their period of hardship. “Indentured immigrants were thrust into a strange land. The plantation system was unkind and inhospitable. Indians suffered greatly as a result of the poor living and working conditions on the plantations… Festivals such as Holi brought happiness into an otherwise dreary life. It assured Hindus that good would defeat evil,” he said.
The President said that from an agricultural point of view, and for an agricultural people, Holi is also the colourful festival of Spring, which depicts the strong connection to the land, celebrates fertility and reinforces the bond between life itself and the land. “Holi is an opportunity for the renewal of human relations-an occasion for persons to set aside differences. It is time to forget and to forgive wrongs; to frolic, so let’s have fun!” the Head of State said.
The High Commissioner of India to Guyana Mr. VenkatachalamMahalingam, during brief remarks, said that the Festival of Holi represents love and explained several legends on which the celebration is based on in India. Moreover, he said that Holi indeed represents a merging of cultures. “We all know that Guyana’s motto is One People, One Nation, One Destiny and the emphasis on social cohesion we are glad to see the real meaning of it in the congregation of proud citizens of Guyana here today. It is a true depiction of unity and diversity. May God bless Guyana,” he said.
Several persons in attendance, of various ethnicities and even visitors to Guyana, remarked that such festivities showcase the inclusivity of Guyana’s culture.
Dr. Priyanka Jain, a native of India, who is a doctor attached to the Balwant Singh Hospital and who has lived in Guyana for ten years, said that every year it is a pleasure to see people of all races celebrate Holi. “I think Guyana is a confluence of many cultures. Everyone embraces the cultures very well here so we all get together and participate in all the festivals… It shows Guyana’s culture is very tolerant and respectful and filled with fun,” she said.
Ms. Amanda Caldwell and Ms. Elisabeth Smith, both representatives from the United States Embassy in Guyana, said that they were happy to be part of this celebration. “I appreciate this very inclusive activity. We are very happy to have been invited and are able to celebrate in Guyana,” Ms. Smith said.
Mr. Koby Wills, a student, said that it is such celebrations that show just how diverse Guyana’s culture is. “It is good that we are all celebrating as one and be one big happy family even with a celebration that has its religious roots,” he said.
International choreographer, Mr. JayantiBhagawati, a native of India, said that it is heartening when people come together as one to celebrate such holidays, as he has seen happening in Guyana. “I have seen people of all races celebrating this holiday and it is good that people can come together as human beings to celebrate as one,” he said.
The programme included a rich mixture of cultural presentations, including a tabla percussion, Indian songs and dances, steel pan renditions and performances by the National Dance Company, among others. It was also attended by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Mrs. SitaNagamootoo, former Presidents Mr. Donald Ramotar and Mr. Sam Hinds, other Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament and Members of the Diplomatic Corps. (MOTP)