Dispute over mining land forces family into the jungle after home met with gunfire

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A Region Eight family was forced to flee into the forest with nothing to eat after gunmen, reportedly hired by a large-scale miner, fired at their home at Tiperu in Region Eight.

But the family, headed by Judy John, claims the Police have not been doing anything to render assistance to the residents who are now fearful for their lives.

The family has been mining at the Tiperu back dam on a plot of land for the past two years. They showed the News Room a copy of the prospecting permit for a small scale operation on the land. The document is an authorisation given by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to locate a claim.

Judy’s son Rex John showing the prospecting permit and a receipt from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) for the land.

Judy John was left on the land after her husband Jonathan, 50, was killed by his son on March 30 last. The son, 21-year-old Dintus John -whose name is on the documents -was jailed for the murder.

The 21-year-old man was recently released from prison.

Since the tragic incident, Mrs John said the miner has threatened to kill her family and take over the land.

“This is my sons and my [land] but they still want to take it over from me and send me out from there but I always tell them, this is not their claim, this is not their land, we already paid for this claim so they don’t like what I say…”

“…they keep saying they will kill my son and so,” the 49-year-old mother of four said.

The woman lives on the land with her four children, one daughter-in-law and some other relatives. They also employ seven workers for mining.

The disputed land. Some of the men who have been attacking the family are barely visible in the photo

On May 10, the gunmen stormed the land and fired several bullets at the family.

John’s daughter-in-law, Maryann Canterbury, told the News Room that she had just eaten breakfast when she heard a gunshot.

“…it was like 5-something, it was rapid gunshots…we saw 9mm pistol spent shells, one 12mm spent shell and .32 spent shell.”

As a result, she along with others ran from the property into the forest. They included John’s 11-year-old son and her 13-year-old daughter.

“I (hid) in an old tree and she (the 13-year-old girl) come with me. I hear the men them not too far from us and when they reach down at the creek, he say ‘catch the girl, I have to get her’ so I leave her there and I went more deep into the jungle,” Canterbury said.

She recalled that she spent all day in the thick forest and walked towards her home in the evening but it was not long before she was lost.

“I lost several times…I reach one of the line we does walk to go fishing and then I started to remember where I walk through and found the [the two children],” Canterbury told the News Room.

Upon their return, they found that the men had broken into their home and carted off a GPS, walkie-talkies, 15 pennyweights in gold and other items.

Canterbury told the News Room that one of the persons who are terrorizing them previously asked to work on the land but the family declined.

The men have since set up their camps a short distance away and have been destroying items belonging to the family.

A report was made to the Mabura Police Outpost but the Police said it was out of their jurisdiction.

Canterbury said the Mahdia Police Station was later contacted but the Police Officers said their vehicle is not functional and therefore they cannot travel to Tiperu to assist the family.

Canterbury, Judy and others travelled to Georgetown this week where they made a report to the Police at Eve Leary and also at the Amerindian People’s Association.

“We just want to go back living in peace,” Canterbury said.

A source from the GGMC explained that this dispute may be as a result of one miner’s claim overlapping on the other. He said the GGMC will soon begin its investigation to determine who is the rightful claimant to the land.

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