August 10, 2004
Has the crime crisis on the East Coast concluded?
Most would agree that the worst may be over but the murder of Gregory Adams at the start of this month suggests that some diehards are still settling scores and that old wounds have not healed.
True, the days when motorcars and minibuses could be stopped and their passengers robbed or beaten or worse; when armed gangs made sorties nightly into neighbouring villages; when shooting made the public road impassable; when the police never dared to set foot south of Buxton-Friendship's embankment road; and when daily headlines reported some new atrocity, seem to have ended.
There is little doubt that the attempt by the authorities at a 'final solution' to the crime crisis by the physical extermination of the hard core of violent criminal terrorists was largely responsible for restoring some semblance or normalcy in a zone notorious and dangerous in the extreme.
There should be concern, however, that the root causes of the criminal violence seem not to have been thoroughly investigated or understood. Many questions remain to be answered. What were the pre-existing conditions in Buxton-Friendship and what were the attitudes among the residents that tolerated crime for such a long period? What social, ethnic, economic or political forces propelled the perpetrators of these horrible crimes? What residual effect has violence had on the community and its environs? What pictures are imprinted in the minds and memories of the children who witnessed armed terrorists doing their grisly work?
It is not unreasonable to expect that, at the end of hostilities, there would have been some rigorous investigation followed by rehabilitation and amelioration. At the levels of the local government - the Region 4 RDC and the Buxton-Foulis NDC - and the central government and its Ministry of Home Affairs and security forces, should not answers have been sought to the serious questions which the people of that community and of this country have been asking?
There has been little of this. The Regional Administration, never very energetic even in normal times, has hardly been over-active in repairing damaged relations in the community. There has been little action by the Central Government, also, to either create a more sturdy security structure to prevent another outbreak or to detect the symptoms of new trouble. The inevitable result is that criminals can still settle old scores and search for soft targets such as isolated vehicles during silent hours to pounce on unsuspecting victims and to repeat some of the crimes typical of the crisis.
This sort of low-intensity criminal violence could continue indefinitely unless there is some plan to stabilise the once volatile Buxton-Friendship battlefield. Serious crimes have been committed; lethal weapons have been employed; some persons have disappeared, presumed murdered and perhaps buried; violent criminals may still be on the loose; and, worse still, crimes continue.
The public would like to be assured that the community has been disarmed. Persons suspected of having been involved in criminal activity must be made to answer charges. The remains of those who might have disappeared must be retrieved.
Given the scale and duration of the violence, many guilty persons other than those who have been killed might have been accessories to crimes. There must have been many innocent persons, particularly children in and out of the community, who were traumatised by the terrorism.
The memories of murders, robberies and arson cannot simply disappear. The Administration must launch some sort of stabilisation operation to bring this painful episode of criminal violence to a satisfactory closure.