Funeral of slain couple tomorrow By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
May 14, 2002

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A CLOSE relative yesterday said the funeral of the couple murdered by bandits Saturday night at Annandale, East Coast Demerara, will take place tomorrow at Good Hope, also on the East Coast.

The relative said businessman Ramdeo Persaud, 43, also called David and `Sweetie man' will be buried while his 34-year-old wife Mahadai Magoo, also called Sita Persaud will be cremated.

The Police yesterday said they were continuing investigations into the brutal murder.

The Chronicle understands that Police Commissioner, Mr. Floyd McDonald called a meeting with senior officers of the Force at Police Headquarters yesterday morning which focussed specifically on the Saturday night killing and on the redoubling of efforts to recapture the five February 23 prison escapees.

Sorrow and their sense of loss were written on the faces of the three children Sunday - Mother's Day - following the brutal killing of their parents after armed bandits stormed their home at Annandale Saturday night.

Persaud and his wife were shot dead around 19:20 hrs (7:20 p.m.) by six heavily armed bandits, whom eyewitnesses said are "identifiable".

Residents said four of the unmasked bandits, two of whom were wearing military clothing, were carrying long guns with the magazines taped together, while the other two were each carrying two handguns.

Relatives said Persaud and his wife were beaten by the gang and even after they complied with the demand to hand over money and jewellery, were ordered to lie down on the polished floor of their bedroom. They were then shot to death execution-style.

Reports indicate that Persaud was shot some four times in the back while his wife received three bullet wounds -- one in the region of the heart, one in the ribcage, and one on her leg.

News of the horrific double-murder spread rapidly throughout the closely-knit Annandale/Lusignan community on Saturday night. And by Sunday morning, a steady stream of relatives, friends and angry residents had gathered at the home of the businessman at 57 Peter Street, Annandale North. The visitors all extended condolences to the three grieving children.

The bandits escaped on foot (the same mode they used to enter the village), into the neighbouring Buxton area with an undisclosed sum of cash and jewellery along with a licensed 12-gauge shotgun owned by Persaud and five matching cartridges, which were discovered missing Sunday.

The children, 16-year-old Rakesh; 13-year old Deoram, also known as Neville; and 11-year old Devika, also known as Sabrina, said they had already bought Mother's Day gifts for their stepmother Sita. They had planned to wrap the gifts on the night of the tragedy.

Rakesh, who lost his biological mother some years ago (his father's first wife), has now lost his father and his stepmother Sita. In tears, the lad told this newspaper that he had bought his mother a "beautiful purse" for Mother's Day.

Persaud's second wife, Ms. Kalouti Persaud, 35, and the biological mother of Sabrina, a pupil of the Annandale Primary school and Neville, who attends a private school, lives in the same community at 80 Annandale South. She was at the home Sunday comforting the children.

She told the Chronicle that she was married to Persaud in 1987 shortly after he separated from his first wife (Rakesh's mother). She said she and Persaud separated in 1992, after which Persaud "took home" another woman, from whom he subsequently separated. He then married Sita about four years ago.

The three children said they were very attached to their father and stepmother. They said their parents were very good to them and tried to give them everything they asked for.

Recalling the gruesome ordeal, which lasted less than 10 minutes, Rakesh said that he, his parents, his brother and sister and a workman were at home at the time. He said the bandits entered the yard and ordered all of them to lie on the floor.

The bandits then started to beat his father, demanding cash and jewellery. The parents were then taken upstairs where they handed over an undisclosed sum of cash and all of their jewellery, he said.

One of the bandits remained downstairs guarding the three children and the workman, who were all ordered to lie on the floor.

Rakesh said he then heard several gunshots upstairs followed by the screams of his parents. He told the Chronicle that as soon as the bandits left, he and his siblings and the workman got up from the ground floor and went upstairs where his parents were making no sound.

"When I went in the room, I see me mother and father lying down on the floor, me mother curled up and me father lying on his belly. There was blood on the floor. They were dead," the teenager said between sobs.

"We done buy gifts for Mother's Day...we say we gon wrap it last night (Saturday night) but we nah get fu wrap it," he added.

"Our parents were very caring...anything we want we get, anything we see, we get it," he recalled.

The businessman's younger brother, Ramesh, 40, who lives with his wife and two children in Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, was still in an emotional daze Sunday as he tried to come to grips with the tragic events of Saturday night.

Shaking his head, Ramesh said his elder brother was "very, very good" to him and the least he could do now, in the current situation, is to take care of his three children.

He said Ramdeo was the eldest of four brothers and two sisters. "My brother was really kind to me and I will try to see the best I can do for the kids," Ramesh assured.

"My brother was so kind to me that words can't describe the feeling...he was such a kind and hardworking gentleman and such a loving and approachable brother."

Persaud and his wife were the proprietors of the business 'R. Persaud's and Sons' and were the sole distributors of KC Candy in this country.

Persaud's brother also noted that while the bandits were terrorising his brother and sister-in-law upstairs, the bandit guarding the three children and the young workman, asked the workman (apparently mistaking him for the businessman's eldest son), if he was going to "tek over the business now".

Ramesh reasoned that this statement gave a clear indication that the bandits went to kill because up to that point, they had not fired any shots.

He said the family cannot estimate the extent of the robbery, but noted that his brother and his wife had "lots of jewellery" and not a single piece has been found in the house since the robbery.

"And then Saturday is a business day, so he had cash that he collected from his business plus what he had home. And all of that is gone," he added.

Ramesh also recalled that their parents died many years ago and he and his brother and their other siblings "really struggle fuh get up in life".

"...we used to knock about all over the place; we used to live right here (57 Peter Street) and we struggled real bad when our parents died; we really, really struggle in life and now to sit down and enjoy life a bit...I cannot explain how much this thing really hurt."

Neighbours said they were very scared during the ordeal. Some said they could not get through on the telephone to the Police Station at Vigilance and Police arrived on the scene after the bandits had escaped.

One neighbour said she tried phoning the Vigilance station less than a minute after the bandits entered the Persauds yard, but was unable to get through because the line was busy.

Police said that after shooting the couple dead, the bandits left the yard and proceeded east into the Buxton area on foot firing several shots at a neighbouring house.

Several bullet holes were seen on the verandah of the house obliquely opposite the Persauds. Sixty-five-year-old Motilall, who lives with his family at 35 Peter Street, said he was sitting on his verandah shortly after 19:00 hrs and barely noticed some persons coming through from the eastern end of Peter Street (from the direction of Buxton).

"I immediately suspected that they were about to do some robbery. So I escaped with my family through a back entrance to a house at the back...we waited there and hear some bullets. When I come back after everything finish, I see these bullet holes on my verandah," he related.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds visited the home around 12:30 hrs Sunday, by which time, more than 100 persons had gathered in the yard.

The Prime Minister was bombarded with questions and accusations from persons venting their frustrations, some charging that the Government seemed unable to protect citizens. They also deplored the perceived inability of the Police to capture the criminals and murderers.

"Dey murdered me brother like fish; dey put them to lie down and shoot them in cold blood in the most brutal fashion. I don't think my brother deserve to die like that," Ramesh told the Prime Minister.

To this Mr. Hinds replied: "There is nothing more I could say except that my major feeling at this time is one of great grief. We have to continue our efforts; we had another long meeting again this morning (Sunday) to try to develop some methods to recapture these bandits and any others that may have joined up with them."

"This is a situation that should have never happened. It leaves all of us with horrors," he added.

Meanwhile, the People's Progressive Party (PPP) in a statement Sunday said it is deeply saddened by the "robbing and murdering" of the businessman and his wife who have become "the latest victims of organised banditry and murder".

"The circumstances under which these two hardworking, decent citizens were gunned down show that these bandits were cold-blooded murderers," the PPP said.

"That the bandits came on foot and left on foot, with much ease, in the direction of the neighbouring village of Buxton/Friendship, reveals the boldness with which these acts are now being perpetrated," the party said.

It said, too, that the targets, frequency and organised nature with which these acts of robberies and murders have been committed over the past six weeks, seem to suggest that robbery is not the only motive.

It would be of interest to recall the network of support and cover bandits and other criminals enjoy from certain quarters and elements in the society, the main partner in the governing PPP/Civic (PPP/C) said.

The PPP further pointed out that recent utterances by the Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) leadership at City Hall could but only embolden those intent on breaking the law and terrorising hardworking Guyanese.

It said it recognises the tremendous efforts of the law enforcement agencies to fight crime and respond to acts of domestic terrorism. However, the party urged others in society to "do their part".

"All Guyanese, including political groups and the entire media landscape must take a side - the side of the law and help fight crime; there is no room for ambivalence and cloaked attacks against the Guyana Police Force or its special anti-crime unit."

"The perpetrators of these murderous acts must be nabbed and brought to justice, no matter their hiding place," the PPP said in its statement.