Saturday, February 24, 2018


Minister of Diversity says ‘we can’t go on like this’ after seeing body of murder victim #20 with head blown off


Staying informed: Rodger Samuel, right, National Diversity and Social Integration Minister, speaks to La Brea residents Anstey Staillo, from left, Kennedy Lewis and Ricardo St Louis during his visit to Coffee Beach yesterday to view the clean-up operation following the recent oil spills. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

Mark Fraser

“Oh gosh, stop!”

That was the cry of Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, Rodger Samuel, after seeing the body of the country’s latest murder victim with his head blown off.

Speaking to reporters yesterday during a tour of beaches along the southwestern coastline affected by the recent oil spills, Samuel said he was at the scene of this country’s 20th murder in Arima on Tuesday night.

“I was just about four minutes after the incident. I stood there and saw a young man with his head blown off. I understand he was shot five times in his head. It brought tears to my eyes and I became emotional because it is something I have been saying over and over. And here it is I am driving home from church and it happened there. It affected me tremendously and I felt, oh gosh, stop! It has to stop, we can’t go on like this,” he said.

The murder victim was identified as Derek Pina, 21, who was ambushed and shot at the corner of Green and St Joseph Streets, Arima, around 8.30 p.m.

Samuel, who was accompanied by Petrotrin officials and workers involved in the clean-up exercise, said the current murder toll was outrageous and cannot continue.

He renewed his plea for the return of capital punishment—death by hanging.

And he noted his ministry was involved in planning a national day of prayer and fast for Trinidad and Tobago.

“I am an advocate that capital punishment is the law and also it is a biblical law. God said that if a man sheds man blood, then by man should his blood be shed. And when the law sheds your blood, that’s not murder. That’s obeying God’s command,” he said.

Asked whether he supported a call for the cancellation of Carnival activities in light of the crime situation, Samuel said, “Anything that would pull us back together. Anything that would cause us to think and not allow the onslaught to continue, I will support it. Anything. And if it means going and pray all day.”

Samuel said he intends to raise his concerns in Parliament as soon as the opportunity arises.

“I would raise it everywhere. In the month of July/August, I was moved to go on a fast for this nation because I was moved by God that something was stealing the soul of this nation,” he said.

His ministry, in collaboration with the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), is planning a day of national fast and prayer.

“I am integrally involved in now putting together a national day of prayer and fast, and the ministry is involved with the IRO to pull together a national day of prayer and fast for this nation. That should come in the next fortnight,” he said.

Samuel said his Cabinet colleagues were aware of his position of the resumption of hangings.

“Some may disagree and we may have disagreements in everything, but at end of day is what’s best for the nation,” he said.

Samuel said citizens need to become more law abiding. “Crime and where we go as a nation is depen­dent upon every citizen loving country and deciding that I need to protect my nation for future. We need to enforce a lot of laws and we need to know that capital punishment is a law,” he said.

Samuel said citizens must stop becoming so dependent on Government and take responsibility for their own actions.

Samuel visited Station Beach, Queens/Coffee Beach, Carat Shed Beach and Sable Beach in La Brea, where oil has washed ashore in recent weeks.

“The Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration is responsible for heritage, both built heritage and natural heritage, and in some areas we would deal with underwater heritage. The fact that the beaches are our natural heri­tage, all of these areas, the mangrove, are natural heritage and we have to preserve and we can’t afford for them to disappear,” he said.

Samuel said he was pleased with the clean-up exercise, but questioned why rocks along the coastline were still stained with black oil when the beaches were cleaned.

“It find it strange that the beach is cleaned, but the rocky area is getting contaminated again. I was questioning that if something was cleaned and two days after, it’s black again. I find it strange,” he said.