Bartica welcomes justice in 2008 Massacre
By Leroy Smith
Friday, February 17 will mark nine years since the slaughter of eleven persons in Bartica, and though families have not fully recovered, they are satisfied that justice has been served.
February 17, 2008, is described as the darkest day in the History of Bartica when gunmen invaded the mining community, parading the streets like policemen and brutally murdering 11 persons.
Among those killed were husbands, fathers and brothers among which were three police ranks.
Last week, two persons; Mark Royden Williams called ‘Durant’ and ‘Smallie’ and Dennis Williams, called ‘Anaconda’ were sentenced to death by hanging, as a penalty for the crime while one, Roger Anthony Simon called ‘Goat Man’ was acquitted.
News Room on Saturday (February 04, 2017) spoke with the relatives of some of the deceased
A relative of Irving Ferreira who was killed expressed satisfaction that “Justice has been served.” The woman said “at least you know, the families them will get some form of satisfaction…I try not to think about it, you don’t want to keep remembering something like that all the time.”’
Debra Gilkes who lost her husband, Edwin Gilkes also spoke with the News Room. She said “For me, justice was served…god knows and sees so for me, god will deal with the rest. I think that was a good justice but the only thing is that we still leff suffering.”
The woman who is left with a son and a daughter said it has not been an easy road since the loss of her husband, however, she is trying to keep her children in school. Gilkes who is employed with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) related that she also sells plantain chips and other snacks to provide for her children and ensure they stay in school.
The News Room team also caught up with the relatives of Raymond White who was left handicapped after the ordeal. He was shot about the body and became partially deaf and has other disabilities.
“With regards to justice…I think that woulda been enough justice” one his son said. But he accepted that it has been”lil difficult because at first, he was the breadwinner fo the family and since the incident, it get a little harder pon us because my mother does everything for he. Well I got a smaller brother, he does got to be at home all the time, he cant work or anything because he got to assist he.”
Before the attack, White was said to be a very vibrant boat captain which earned him the nickname “Coolie Bully”
For the relatives, February 17 always comes as a sad day and one that is filled with memories that no one wants to relive.
The family did receive public assistance from the government but that was suddenly discontinued without a reason.
Debra Gilkes also complained that her public assistance was discontinued without a reason.
On Saturday during our visit to the Region, Minister of Natural Resource Simona Brooms who is also from Bartica was in the community, she used the opportunity to meet with the families and also expressed her relief that justice has been served in the matter.
During the tragedy which occurred on February 17, 2008, where the Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins gang murdered three police ranks and nine civilians, a police station and a mining company were robbed. The men also took possession of a police vehicle.
They then drove through several streets in the community where they shot at anyone in sight.
Following the murders, a monument was erected in honour of those who were killed.