KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 20, IWN — This country continues to play catch up in terms of reports of theft of agricultural produce and livestock and convictions.

And Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he thinks the magistracy is not using the full range of sentencing options in relations to this crime.

Gonsalves, in response to a question to opposition senator, Dr. Linton Lewis, told Parliament last week that in 2008, 2009, and 2012, respectively, this country recorded 174, 222, and 198 cases of theft of agricultural produce.

In each of those years, 29, 44, and 34 cases of theft of produce were brought to court and there were 22, 31, and nine convictions, respectively.

In 2008, 2011, and 2012, respectively, the number of reported cases of theft of livestock was 247, 316, and 199.

Those same years, 18, 24, and 14 cases were brought to court, and there were 10, 16, and 10 convictions, respectively.

“Mr. Speaker, we had introduced the law, procedurally, to address the question of theft of produce and of livestock. We have persons who you have to register,” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security and Legal Affairs.

He, however, said that during the last consultation, farmers said the arrangement assumes that persons who are registered farmers do not steal.

“They have reported that … some persons who farm are themselves responsible for stealing. So that they will have the produce because they say it comes form their land.

“So, that is a weakness that we have to deal with…” Gonsalves further said, adding that the 20 rural constables hired to deal with predial larceny “have to be sensitive to this issue, and very much so the police…

“Be assured, I have realised the issue over and over with the Commissioner [of Police] and the people on the ground to see how we can get this done better…”

Gonsalves further said he was not satisfied that the working between the police and the rural constables is the best.

“I know it has improved since I have spoken out against it,” he further said, as he reiterated that female rural constables had been treated as maid at “one or two” rural police stations.

He said there are some issues related to sentencing, but added, this “is not an area in which I should put my mouth”.

“…But I think many of us form the impression that the sentencing options available to the magistracy they are not used to the extent. I am not just talking about jail.”

He said a person convicted of predial larceny could be put under a curfew.

“He can be put under curfew for a year and he has to report to the police station,” he said.

“He further said that while other countries have looked at the legislation here and the idea of rural constables, “there are always difficulties”.

1 COMMENT

  1. The old colonialism in Gonsalves is rearing its ugly head again. He loves to berate colonialism, but can’t help his self in wanting to live it.

    He wants to treat our people like Victorian Britain, locking up those who steal a loaf of bread.

    If you are a hardworking farmer and someone steals your produce, steals your animals, its a dreadful thing for you.

    If your a man that needs to feed himself, needs to feed his wife and children, needs to feed his mother and father. Its also a dreadful thing, especially if its not a fault of your own making.

    People in SVG are starving, they have no work, no prospects of work and no social help to feed themselves and their families.

    The poorest street people are fed by the Catholic feeding station in Kingstown, and many are also fed by the Salvation Army. May we bless all those people, and all who help them financially and with produce.

    Under this Gonsalves led ULP Government, people are starving, children going to school hungry.

    In the US there are thousands of food stations in church halls and old warehouses, where close dated canned and dried goods are piled high and distributed free to the needy. In SVG, its just bugger off and don’t pester me for a dollar.

    When in Saint Vincent, you have a man going into a bank with a million US dollars in cash, and ULP top party members taking US cash to banks, shops, stores, bars, restaurants. Bundles and bundles of US cash spent like water. With people starving that just a few dollars a week would feed. Then you can understand the need to steal. If only those greedy ULP could buy the close dated food from the US and distribute it free, its available.

    And they all go to church and pretend to be Christians. And all those preachers bless them.

    Are you a politician asking what your country can do for you, or a zealous one asking what you can do for your country? If you are the first, then you are a parasite; if the second, then you are an oasis in the desert.
    Kahlil Gibran

    WAKE UP PEOPLE AND SMELL THE SULPHUR.

  2. Peter you are way offline. You are not addressing the issues farmers face dally. Attacking Ralph does not help in this situation. The people responsible for protecting farmers need as much power and force as those participating in the drug trade. As a matter of fact I will rather see the drug guys working in tandem with the farm-police to protect farmers. This tame rural constable name carry no weight, no wonder they are not respected. I use the word farm-police, but there are other labels that can be used. h important thing is the weight and authority they have to make arrests and charge culprits. They should be able to monitor farms to help dissuade other farmers from stealing products and animals they don’t own.
    The ULP is not serious about agriculture in SVG. The recent meeting to address the coconut oil issue was not for all people in SVG, just folks in the ULP constituency. The minister for agriculture is also turning up on farms on the Windward side of the island. He’s no better than the previous joker.
    .