Black flags of mourning for slain couple by Abigail Butler
Guyana Chronicle
May 16, 2002

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BLACK flags of mourning lined some streets of Annandale as relatives, residents of the East Coast Demerara village and other mourners yesterday carried out the last rites for the couple brutally slain by heavily armed bandits who invaded their home last Saturday night.

Hundreds turned out for the funerals of Ramdeo Persaud, 43, known as David and `Sweetie Man' and his reputed wife, Mahadai Magoo, 34, also called Sita Persaud.

They were shot dead, execution-style, when six bandits stormed their home at 57, Peter Street, Annandale North, just over an hour after sundown Saturday.

Magoo was cremated at the Good Hope cremation site, where hundreds turned up to pay their respects or get a last glimpse of her lifeless body.

Vehicles lined the way to the cremation site and on the public road, but Police were out in numbers to ensure order and a free flow of traffic.

There was a huge crowd around the cremation site where Magoo's body lay and many people angrily went away without getting to view her body

One relative pacified some by displaying a laminated copy of a photo of the slain woman.

Persaud's eldest son, Rakesh, with head shaved according to Hindu rites, shared in performing the last rites for Magoo.

In Annandale, black flags of mourning lined the roadway and were more numerous in several streets leading to the house where the killing took place.

As Magoo's funeral pyre was lit, scores started streaming to Annandale for a final view of `Sweetie Man', whose funeral was scheduled three hours after his wife's.

By 13:30 hrs, several persons started lining Peter Street as an orderly viewing of Persaud's body took place at his home.

Left to mourn are Persaud's three children, 16-year-old Rakesh, 13-year-old Deoram and 11-year-old Devika, who had become very much attached to their step-mother.

Magoo was in a common-law relationship with Persaud for the last four years.

Minister of Local Government, Mr. Harripersaud Nokta attended the funerals.

Prime Minister Sam Hinds, as well as Nokta, visited the relatives earlier this week.

The Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and the Justices of the Peace Association yesterday joined the list of those condemning the Annandale murders.

The Chamber of Commerce expressed "disgust and disappointment at the present state of criminal activities, including the loss of innocent lives and property, especially those of business persons."

"We are calling on the Government to introduce conscription (compulsory enrollment in the armed forces) as one of the ways to correct the situation...And to do everything possible to re-initiate the (political) dialogue", the chamber said in a statement.

The Justices of the Peace Association said in a statement that it "condemns most vehemently the brutal slaying" of the Annandale couple.

The association said it "recognises that the gruesome murder of David and his wife (Sita) was more than just banditry. When one looks at the whole scenario one is certainly convinced that the killing...was probably part of a hate campaign designed to terrorise peaceful, law abiding and productive Guyanese".

"The...association call(s) on all concern(ed) Guyanese, organisations and associations to condemn this barbaric act and demand that the security forces move swiftly and precisely to apprehend the killers so that such further acts of barbarism may be prevented", the statement said.

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

"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 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 main Opposition People's National Congress Reform on Tuesday also issued a statement condemning the killing of the couple.

Witnesses said the two were killed by identifiable gunmen.