CHRISTMAS is a time for family and loved ones. But for many families who have been affected by the ravages of crime, today is a painful reminder of what they have lost. We take a moment to express sympathy to all the families missing ones who will not be home for Christmas. In so doing we do not intend to put a damper on the merriment entrenched in the season, but rather to acknowledge a sad fact of life in our country, a fact which is of increasing relevance as the years go on and the toll of missing people continues to rise.
As we partake of our ham, pastelle, blackcake, sorrel, ponche-de-creme and gingerbeer; as we open presents and chip to parang; as we relax with our friends and family let us spare a thought for people like Ria Sookdeo.
One morning almost two years ago, Ria, a mother of two, dropped her children off to school. She has not been seen since. Reports are that she was abducted outside her children’s primary school by men dressed in police tactical gear. Although several people were detained, no one was ever arrested, and no ransom demanded. Just like that, a human being seemingly vanished off the face of the earth.
Consider also Glenda Charles-Harris. The last footage of Glenda, a 78-year-old mother of five, was recorded three years ago outside an ATM machine in Diamond Vale. Police revealed several withdrawals were made from her bank accounts before, and on the day, she disappeared. Her champagne Almera car was discovered in a teak field in Princes Town.
These are but two examples.
It is hoped that in the new year, as the Cold Case Missing Persons Unit announced by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith gets off the ground, some form of resolution will be forthcoming for the families affected. While no case is ever really a “cold case” the new unit will be dedicated to finding people who have been missing for a long period of time, according to comments made by Griffith in September. On the other hand, while some families will be grieving lost loved ones, others will be able to breathe a sigh of relief over the return of people dear to them thanks to successful action on the part of the TTPS.
In contrast to the cases in which there have been no happy ending, the police have recently recorded outright successes in cases such as those involving the separate kidnappings of Natalie Pollonais and UWI manager Maria Dass-Supersad. Both will be home for Christmas.
The Christmas holiday, therefore, is a time for us to be grateful for how far we have come and how much farther we have to go.