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Raffique Shah


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Dana's death in vain

By Raffique Shah
May 11, 2014

After all the tears and anger and outrage and tributes and exhortations, what do we do? Dana is dead, gunned down gangland-style, making for good copy for a week or two, but what after that?

The politicians shed buckets of tears and scream: her death must not be in vain! The police vow to leave no stone unturned in their quest to bring her killers to justice. The preachers say she was an exemplar, her colleagues-in-law deem her irreplaceable, her friends say only good things about her, and her extended family mourns in a dignified manner.

For all the hoopla that surrounds this murder most foul, my gut feeling is that in another week or two Dana Seetahal will be just another statistic. She will be no different to other victims of the rampage of killers, distinguished only because of savagery (cold execution or decapitation), age (very old or very young), gender (women always win more sympathy than men), or station in life.

One week after her killers snuffed out her life, the police have yet to make an arrest. Amidst much speculation about motives for her murder—she had information on the drugs mafia or money laundering, it might be connected to some matter she was pursuing—there were reports that the police had a good idea who the assassins were, and arrests were imminent.

How often have we heard similar claims after high-profile crimes? Following the big cocaine find in the USA a few months ago, and with similar speculation running rife, I warned people not to be too hopeful. In spite of claims by senior officials here that that find came about because of collaboration between local intelligence and the US authorities, no one has been held thus far.

Now, if local intelligence alerted US authorities, they must have known (1) that cocaine was secreted in the tins of juice, and (2) who shipped the illicit drugs. So, why no arrests? They knew nothing, they were talking crock!

In Dana’s murder, if they have so much information on the killer or killers, why have they not arrested him or them? Why appeal to the public to come forward with information? Why offer the biggest reward ever for information?

It just does not make sense. Which is why I have this feeling of déjà vu, that we have been there a thousand times before and have seen the results—zilch, zero, nothing.

There are other pieces to this jigsaw puzzle that just do not fit. Early on, the media reported that “high-powered weapons” and “military grade bullets” were used in the “hit”. I was not surprised when the autopsy showed that Dana was struck by five handgun bullets from point-blank range, so close that there were “powder burns” on her body.

Any sensible person looking at videos and photos of the murder scene could have concluded as much, and added that it did not take a marksman to do the deed.

Military-grade ammunition are in no way special except if they are for rifles (all of which are “high-powered”) which ought never to be in the hands of civilians, far less criminals. And yes, there are special ammunition that can cause greater damage to targets, but I have yet to hear of a single instance in which such was used in this country.

While I understand that in a very competitive media environment my colleagues tend to dramatise the news, some choice terms bordered on hilarious. One reporter quoted the indomitably senior Supt Johnny Abraham as saying that “the entire Central Division team of officers have their eyes and ears to the ground...” I should hope that the officers are not looking at their toes, but instead focussing around them!

The same reporter wrote, regarding a suspect in Dana’s murder, “...a prisoner who has been issuing orders to carry out various executions continues to be under surveillance. However, investigators have decided to hold their hands in taking him into custody, just yet...”

So the suspect is issuing orders from jail, but the police are yet to arrest him! Is this a case of the Keystone Cops or a confused reporter or both?

I am not hopeful that the police will arrest all those responsible for Dana’s murder. I write in these terms because I believe that the mastermind might not have been on the scene of the crime.

If my projections are right, and I keep hoping I prove to be wrong, then the murderers will remain at large, ready to strike at another target tomorrow. It could be you or me or some prominent person whose death would evoke another round of outrage, with cries and sentiments similar to those that erupted last Sunday.

All the talk is taking us no closer to dealing with a murder rate that makes the country look like a failed state. You should read how the globally respected Economist magazine reported Dana’s murder.

As for action, the criminals have long had the upper hand, and that is not about to change anytime soon. Sadly, Dana’s death, like hundreds more murder victims’, has already been in vain.

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