Minister Astaphan, the people of St. Kitts need your help. The escalation of criminal activity is terrifying the population, tarnishing the good name of our beautiful island and threatening economic progress.
The level of criminal activity has not only reached ridiculous numbers, but the execution of the crimes have become so daring that it seems as if the criminal element in our community is trying to make crime look like a joke.
The kind of things they do and the manner in which they do them, make our community appear so vulnerable that it seems to have surrendered to the rule of murderers and bandits.
Look at what these ruffians have done lately.
To get their hands full of easy money, they confiscated the keys of the C & C Supermarket, and tried to extort ransom money from the proprietor. Hardcore crimes are dressed in childish tricks which would make the criminals laugh in our faces if they work.
What frightens the good people of our community is that no place is off limits for these thugs and hooligans.
Some weeks ago they broke into the Cardi Centre, stealing computers. A week or so ago they emboldened themselves and went into the very centre of our community, Government Headquarters – which everyone expects would have all the burglar-proof devices available.
The thieves must have laughed at the ease with which they were able to carry out their heist in such a sensitive spot, for they also raided the building on the opposite side and stole computers from the Ministry of Education.
This is frightening. For the community to perceive of the headquarters of its government to be vulnerable to the whims of the criminal element is terribly frightening.
Who is safe, if the centre of our administrative apparatus is the happy hunting ground of criminals?
This is where you come in, Mr. Astaphan. Our public would like to know that when the bandits and burglars seem to be holding us at ransom, the Minister of National Security will assure us that he is taking immediate steps to secure our community from the rampage of these thugs.
You have at your disposal both a police force and an army. The public is expecting you to mobilise these forces for our security.
Nothing, however, seems to be happening. Crime continues unabated and all-powerful in its daring. Guns are coming into St. Kitts like ordinary cargo. It seems that anybody who wants a firearm can get one.
Mr. Astaphan, please secure us from the guns which are falling into violent hands. Spare us from the cross-fire when these gangsters shoot at one another. Secure us from the assault of the hoodlums who parade as gangsters.
You are presiding over a system which becomes hysterical during a wave of criminal activity and some of your police and soldiers do a creditable job of apprehending some of the gunmen and bandits.
But this is only a token; for no sooner has a culprit been jailed than the same crime for which he was jailed re-occurs, as if to mock our community with Ellie Mat’s calypso: Man gone, Man Ya.
It seems obvious that there are criminal clusters in our society and that crime will not abate with the capture of just one or two of these Bad-men. It seems obvious that any meaningful war on crime would be directed at the clusters, breaking up them with whatever methods are employable.
I respectfully recommend that you attack the clusters of crime by rounding up the gangs and putting them under a strict regimen of training and industry to make them over.
Some of these young men (and some young women too) who form these gangs have not yet been convicted of any crimes. Their record is clean. They have not yet experienced the transition of the jail cell. This does not mean that they are not just as bad as those who have been sent to jail, but the fact that they do not have criminal records should be used to make them redeemable. Their make over should be possible.
Let us put them in a new gang, the National Service Gang, and train them to be useful citizens. This move would be a step in the right direction and would reassure our terrified public that something positive is being done to assuage their fear of injury or death at the hands of our misguided youth.
Mr. Astaphan, unlike some of your critics, I do not hold you responsible for the stupid wanton crimes that occur on our streets and in our alleys.
Those of us who are reasonable know that the roots of crime lie deep in our social psyche, and that a long and sustained process always precedes the commission of a crime. Criminals are created by accident: by careless parents, by uncaring teachers, and by insensitive members of the immediate and wider neighborhood. Sometimes they seem so perfectly bad, that we are unable to trace their behaviour to when they went off on a tangent of social deviancy.
I know that there is nothing in of your folio which promotes crime but though you may not be responsible for the crimes in our society, you are responsible for our security against the criminals.
This security is under serious threat and the danger grows as long as the young potential criminals are on the loose, free from any restrictions. These young criminals are well known by those who cringe in fear at the very mention of their names.
Mr. Astaphan, please pick up the punks, place them in the care of Commander Wallace and let him put them through a make-over process until they are cleansed of their waywardness.
Please, Mr. Minister, do not wait until somebody from Britain, Canada or the US comes in with this advice. The advice is just as potent if it is home grown.
If we do not control the movements of these young idiots, and rid them of their demons, they will continue to harass our society, and it is not far-fetched to expect that, left to themselves, they will eventually take full control of a little island.
Mr. Astaphan, our society is at war with the criminals.
Give us some visible sign that your are zealously and effectively leading the battle.