Members of the Mt Carmel Ebenezer Courts of Praise Ministry were left chanting the blood of Jesus against hoodlums who yesterday smashed open the tomb of one of their church sisters in an attempt to steal its valuables at the May Pen Cemetery.
May Brown Patterson, born on April 10, 1935, was laid to rest last Sunday. But little over a week after relatives closed her coffin, it was found outside its tomb, which was smashed open, about 7:45 yesterday morning, the police said. The hoodlums tried to open another grave but were unsuccessful.
“This is total slackness! This woman was a senior in our church. Her family and everybody came down and buried her last Sunday, and now we come see the woman grave look like this. This grave was well tiled … look at it now. Why would someone do that?” lamented Nadine Powell, who, along with church sister, Sophia Miller, looked on as cemetery labourers used blocks to repair the broken end of the tomb.
“It was her wish to be buried here; her mother is here, her father, brothers and sisters are here, and she asked to be buried here. We don’t expect to come and see the woman’s casket outside on the ground in this manner. This was a woman of God,” continued Powell, condemning the perpetrators to hell.
Powell said one of Patterson’s daughters left the island about 3 o’clock yesterday morning after visiting for the funeral. “She not even reach home yet (Brooklyn), and now she must hear that them mash up har mother grave.”
Miller, in the meantime, criticised the authorities for the shabby state of the cemetery and its lack of perimeter fencing. “We need to talk to the mayor about this because you can’t have a cemetery like this and there is no fencing on it. This is why these things happen.”
Onlookers said that one perpetrator fled after gunmen from nearby communities along Spanish Town Road realised what was happening and started firing at him. The man ran into bushes, they claimed. Police, however, could not confirm reports that shots had been fired.
Instead, an inspector from the Kingston Western Division told The Gleaner that a passer-by saw a man disturbing the grave and then called the cops. By the time the police responded, the man had already fled. The inspector noted, however, that the Criminal Investigation Branch had already started investigating the incident.
Yesterday, John Cornwall, superintendent of cemeteries at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), said it was not clear what the hoodlums were after.
“Usually, we see these things happening at the older graves where they (perpetrators) break open the caskets in search for gold for the cash for gold. But I am not sure why they did this today, because this is one of the newer ones. Maybe they wanted the casket,” said Cornwall. “I am so embarrassed about this thing right now. Trust me.”
Cornwall declined to speak about the need for a perimeter fence, directing the news team to the KSAC for an official comment on that issue.
Representatives from the Ministry of Health were also on site to ensure that there were no health issues arising from the incident.
“The casket was not opened, so thus far it doesn’t seem there is any real health concerns. We are just here to ensure that it is closed before we leave,” said a male representative.
After more than two years of work, Jamaica’s Climate Change Frame-work Policy and Action Plan has received the Cabinet stamp of approval, paving the way for its submission to Parliament later this month.
“The process hasn’t ended. It [the policy document] is still to be tabled in Parliament, but we have reached a very far way,” revealed Gillian Guthrie, senior director of Environment and Risk Management at the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.
“Cabinet has approved it, but they have asked us to do some additions to it. The next step is to make those amendments as per Cabinet instructions, and then to take it to Parliament,” she added.
Guthrie would not divulge the stipulated additions.
Meanwhile, the policy framework and action plan, which has been the subject of much public consultation, has as its objectives:
n To mainstream climate change considerations into sectoral and financial planning and build the capacity of sectors to develop and implement their own climate change adaptation and mitigation plans;
n To support the institutions responsible for research and data collection at the national level on climate change impacts to Jamaica to improve decision-making and prioritisation of sectoral action planning; and
n To improve communication of climate change impacts so that decision-makers and the general public will be better informed.
As such, it provides for, among other things, a range of adjusted institutional arrangements, some of which have already been actioned. These include the establishment of a Climate Change Division, which is now up and running, and a network focal points comprising representatives from some 27 ministries and agencies of Government.
It also prescribes, according to the 2013 Green Paper submitted to Cabinet:
n The development of research, technology, training, and knowledge management;
n The promotion of consultative processes to improve public participation in mitigation and adaptation measures; and
n A set of principles to govern actions towards a secure climate future for Jamaica.
Those principles include sustainable use of natural resources; a multi-sectoral approach to climate change; public participation and collaboration; a precautionary approach; transparency and accountability; and best science.
“What it [the policy] will allow for is a coordinated and integrated approach to climate change,” Guthrie told The Gleaner last week.
“It will allow for all stakeholders to participate and for more focused attention on climate change … It is the pulling together of the institutional and legislative for a more cohesive approach to climate change,” she added.
Jamaica, like other small island developing states of the Caribbean, is among the world’s most vulnerable to climate impacts, which range from sea level rise and the associated loss of coastal livelihoods to more frequent and/or extreme weather events and the associated loss of lives and property.
China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) plans to build three hotels on the 1,200 acres of land it will receive from the Government after it completes the construction of the north-south link of Highway 2000.
A concession agreement between the Government and the Chinese investors gives CHEC the right to build, own and operate the tolled highway for 50 years plus get 1,200 acres of land along the highway.
“I know what is being considered are three hotels with 1,000 rooms. They intend to engage in other developments, housing and commercial,” Dr Omar Davies, the country’s works minister said.
Ivan Anderson, managing director of the National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROCC), said in Parliament last year that CHEC had made proposals for certain lands as part of the deal.
“We have gotten one proposal to look at some lands for development, which are the UDC (Urban Development Corporation) lands adjacent to Dunn’s River … . It is called Roaring River. They have put together a development plan for those lands, which involve lands south of the North Coast Highway, and also the land on the northern side of the highway,” Anderson explained.
CHEC is spending US$610 million on the North-South highway, US$75 million of which is thought to have been spent completing the Mount Rosser bypass, on which Jamaica had already spent US$120 million.
Meanwhile, Davies said CHEC is still carrying out works needed to inform the preparation of an environmental impact assessment on its possible investment at the Goat Islands. The Chinese company is seeking to construct a trans-shipment port at the location.
“They are also seeking to carry out market studies to find firms that will locate (there). The cost of energy will be the critical factor determining their work,” Davies said.