President of the main opposition New Democratic Party, Godwin Friday, says it would be “an idiot” who would suggest that his party is involved in last Saturday’s robbery of the wife of a government minister outside her home.
“That has to be an idiot. This just shows you how partisan politics can get to a point –. Those kinds of comments, all they do, they make the situation worse and they spread hatred in the country,” Friday said on Boom FM on Tuesday, when asked to comment on suggestion that his party had orchestrated the crime.
Two masked men robbed Reisha Twana Browne-Caesar, 39, wife of Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar outside her house at Cedars around 9 p.m. last Saturday.
Police investigations have so far led to the arrest of nine persons who have so far been charged with robbery and gun and ammunition charges.
Sources say the investigation may have led police to dismantle a crime ring in the country.
Browne-Cesar was robbed on a day that Friday led a walk from Rabacca to Kingstown to highlight high crime and joblessness in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The previous Saturday, he had led a walk from Fitz Hughes to Kingstown.
Further commenting on the allegation against his party, Friday said:
“I have nothing but feeling and empathy for Dr. Caesar and Saboto Caesar. I don’t take politics to that sort of level and nobody should. These are people who have been affected by a criminal offence.”
He said he hopes that the family recovers soon and that for all persons who are affected by crime in the future, the police are given the tools to respond.
“Where there are organised elements, that these elements are dealt with so that they can’t perpetrate these offences. And it’s one thing to arrest. We find that it is difficult, very often, for the police to convict. People don’t come forward as witnesses. Why is that the case?
“There are various reasons we don’t ever know, because they don’t ever tell you, they don’t come and tell you why a person has been released or why the prosecution does not go forward. You get headline news when the person is arrested, when the incident occurs and then you never know if the person is in jail or if they walked. That is part of the problem.”
The opposition leader said that no matter the severity of the penalty for a crime, if people don’t think they would be caught and successfully prosecuted, there is not much of a deterrent.
“What is the greatest deterrent is the certainty of apprehension and conviction and, in our system, we don’t have that now.
“We have a situation where the police seem to be overworked or that they are understaffed or they just simply don’t have the tools to do their job. And some of them, quite frankly, they are incompetent.
“But that is where you have to have proper management of the police force and you put the priorities where they are required to go and without security, you can’t have development in the country.”
Friday further described the crime against the minister’s wife as “deplorable”.
He said that during their anti-crime walk, they had stopped at the house and the occupants were very hospitable.
“In fact, we stopped on our way down on the walk and we were given water, to be honest. And this is how people are supposed to live and when I heard about it, I was appalled because I know personally how painful and damaging that can be.”
Friday said his own home and those of people close to him have been violated.
“And I think this is not something for people to say, oh, you see what happened to them and so on and so forth. This is a matter of a citizen of the country, a human being like me and you has been accosted in this way.”
Caesar-Browne was holding her child in her arms at the time of the crime.
Friday noted that the situation could have ended differently and said he was grateful that was not the case.
“And I am grateful that that did not happen, that there was no real physical injury; there must be psychological trauma and this is not something that anybody would want to see happen to anybody in this country.
“It is deplorable and I trust that the police they will get the people who are involved. Not only that they would arrest but they would be able to prosecute successfully and not only this incident but also the incidents of unsolved crime in the country.”
Friday said that he issued a statement on the matter on Monday because he felt so strongly about it.
“It does bring it home closer. We say, oh yes it is just another person and so on. That is true. But it is the wife of a minister and in our society that would even get more profiled,” he said of the impact of the crime against the minister’s wife.