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Raffique Shah


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Reverting to law of the jungle

November 26, 2006
By Raffique Shah

If, per chance-and the odds are heavily in favour of this happening-I were to be gunned down or bludgeoned to death by some free-rein criminal, I have given instructions to my family not to bother to report the matter to the police. They are to hastily arrange for the cremation of my remains with as little fanfare as is possible, and let the Devil take the hindmost after that. My friends have been advised not to seek revenge. In fact, they should embrace the killer in the spirit of forgiveness, if at all he or she (yes, she) is identified. "Good wuk, Bro! How many yuh put to sleep so far?"

This was an easy decision to arrive at without compromising my position on crime, which, I can assure you, is a soldier-like, harsh one. I seriously questioned why should I, ordinary citizen Shah, be so concerned over the evil that stalks this land when those who are charged with, and paid handsomely for, dealing with the problem, could not give a damn?

Put another way, when last has there been a murder conviction in the courts of this country? Except for often-hapless perpetrators of domestic-related murders, or rare instances in which murderers are more stupid than the police, Murder Inc is a thriving business in this Keystone-cops country.

The charade that passes for investigations into crimes by the police has been exposed in all its comic glory over the past few months. For every murder trial that reaches court, reporters can afford to stand by to interview the laughing accused, and see the victims' families shed buckets of tears. Why should I subject my friends and family to this double-dose of trauma?

For starters, and this without reference to any matter currently before the courts, police officers attached to the Homicide Division seem not to know their backsides from their elbows. Basic investigative and interrogation techniques are way beyond their capabilities. In fact, if they have to track down "fowl t'iefs"they would fail miserably.

This shoddy approach to criminal investigation, or the propensity to pervert the course of justice, is nothing new. Many years ago, the notorious Jaitoon (who was a relative of mine) and her co-accused in the murder of her husband, walked free under very dubious circumstances. The police gave conflicting evidence, she walked, and some cops drove away in luxury cars. This kind of bungling or conspiracy has characterised our criminal justice system for many years, but never more than today. It's hard enough to keep track of the daily dosage of murders. It's harder to make arrests: invariably, when some known criminal is gunned down by police or t'ief, we are told he was wanted for six or ten murders. Cases closed.

If our sleuths do build prima facie cases, by the time the matters reach the High Court we see witness performances that would make a jackass parade look like Macy's.

What is even more galling is that these incompetent cops remain on the job, enjoy promotion, and sometimes reach the highest ranks in the Service. A case of dumb below and dumber at the top. Any wonder our people have lost faith in both the Police Service and the judicial system? Unless one opts for swift, deadly justice, you might as well forgive and forget.

Law and order are dead in this country. From our congested roads where, as my colleague Andy Johnson noted, murder-by-accident is the norm, to littering our towns and villages, the strong and the wealthy bullying the weak and the poor, this country stinks. How many moons ago did we hear the government (I can't even remember which one!) vow to remove all billboards from the verges of our highways? Why are the lawless allowed to denude the hills by slashing and burning, or by constructing mansions, the end result affecting thousands of people as floods wreak havoc? Who has the balloons to tear down some of these structures? No one! None of those we put in power, and none of those who man the many institutions that have that responsibility.

It's worse, much worse. We are hearing about the government being afraid of certain criminals. Yes, the very ministers we see cussing and threatening you and me, quake in their boots when confronted by criminals. Policemen, too, openly express fear of "ranking" criminals. Against this culture of lawlessness, why are we spending billions of dollars on fast-boats and blimps and SAUTT and British policemen? Indeed, a very pertinent question is why do we need a Police Service? Why not revert to a free-for-all, a society in which might is right, in which the strong survive and the weak wither?

If we do, then I would feel free to go after anyone who might be seeking to hurt me or those for whom I care, out his light before he outs mine. The law of the jungle is already here. Let us legitimise it.