Anger and hope

A sense of anger mixed with caution and hope was evident among parents at Braeton Primary and Infant School in Portmore, St Catherine, Friday morning, a day after an eight-year-old student and her brother were abducted after school and her throat slashed.

“My daughter goes to this school. She acts big and her body is big. I am very concerned. I am very cut up and very hurt about this. I would want justice to come from this. My body runs cold,” one mother told the Jamaica Observer as she and other parents responded to a request from the school to pick up their children early.

“I don’t know the parent of the child, and I don’t really know the child, but me a tell you seh mi heart burn mi. The person that did this to the little girl, God I am begging you to bring them to justice. I am emotional and depressed. Mi weak inna mi heart,” the parent added.

Information reaching the Observer is that the little girl and her younger brother were abducted after school, taken to Vineyard Town in St Andrew, where the girl’s throat was slashed and both were thrown from the vehicle.

The boy was unharmed.

The injured girl was seen and assisted to hospital by passers-by. She was admitted and has undergone surgery. Early Friday an appeal for blood was made on her behalf.

At the school Friday morning, Senior Superintendent Christopher Phillips, who heads the St Catherine South Police Division, was hopeful that very soon law enforcers will make a breakthrough in the brutal attack on the child.

“She is still alive and fighting. We are confident that pretty soon we will have the full picture of what took place. We are still probing to find the truth. As soon as we get the other parts of the puzzle, we’ll see how things unfolded,” Phillips told the Observer.

“The situation has impacted Braeton Primary School and we are obviously concerned. We want to provide support for them. This investigation spans two police divisions and so far collaboration is going pretty well,” Phillips added, giving credit to the school for having in place adequate security.

However, he pointed to a lack of closed-circuit television cameras which could have assisted the investigation.

“I will allow the investigation to determine if there were gaps in the procedures. Interestingly we had an initiative that focused on the safe schools programme. We dubbed it the Voice of the Youth Symposium. Part of that symposium was the matter of missing people, abductions, and all of those things. It is a big thing for us in St Catherine. Based on all that is happening there might be a need for us to pay more attention to the primary schools in the St Catherine South division,” Phillips said.

Meanwhile, another parent said that she was devastated by news of the abduction and seeming attempted murder of the little girl.

“Mi belly a bun mi and it is not my pickney. It could have been my daughter. I don’t really leave my children to travel on their own like that. Mi try fi pick dem up. The person weh do this to the little girl, your days are numbered,” she said.

“It is kind of hard on some parents to find a vehicle to pick up their child from school, but it is best to find somebody to come pick them up and take them home. It is not nice to make them come home on their own,” the mother said.

“I preach to my daughter every day that a lot of things are going on out there. Make sure you are protecting your children,” she pleaded.

One man, who has a grandchild attending Braeton Infant School, said there is no sensible reason that someone would harm an eight-year-old girl.

“I am cut up about it. An eight-year-old pickney cannot do anything to you. An eight-year-old is harmless to the world. When they start on the little ones coming up you see seh everything mash up. I come to collect my grandson because school dismiss. My grandson nuh really understand because him go the basic school side. As I got the call I came for him. I never want him to come out and anybody tell him that we sent them for him. I tell him that nobody must come for him if it is not me or his mother or father,” he told the Observer.

Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas said that the incident may have caused a significant number of students to not turn up for school on Friday.

The mayor encouraged people to be their brother’s keeper and look out for the children.

“I got to understand that a female went to collect the children, took them outside and placed them in a car and took them away. The mother, I understand, was on her way to pick up the child, but because of the rain she was delayed,” he said.