Sat | Feb 22, 2020

Letter of the day | Crime...’Cui Bono’?

Published:Friday | May 17, 2019 | 12:27 AM


The first time I heard the words ‘Cui Bono’ they were uttered by, arguably, one of the greatest media personalities Jamaica has ever produced, Mr. Wilmot ‘Motty’ Perkins. As I understand it, ‘Cui Bono’ is a Latin phrase which loosely translated is a question asking: ‘who stands to benefit?’.

It does not take five seconds of thought for it to become crystal clear that there is hardly any human activity undertaken that will not be to the benefit of someone. The beneficiary needs not necessarily be the person carrying out the activity, and the beneficiaries can be many.

A teacher doing her job may benefit from a feeling of fulfillment because she is imparting valuable knowledge to her pupils. She may also benefit from a pay cheque come the 25th of the month. Her students benefit from the knowledge transferred, while her taxi driver and local grocer will benefit from her patronage. It is not difficult to see how this can be applied to a cashier, a nurse, a labourer, etc.

Now its application to the question of crime ‘Cui Bono’ becomes rather uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that only lip service is paid to it, and nine-day-wonders are the new normal. Obviously, criminals will be beneficiaries of crime, but are they the only ones? What about their families, wouldn’t they also be beneficiaries? Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.


Without a doubt, the position Jamaica finds itself in must be fueling countless conspiracy theories. Now, I am not pointing any fingers or implying anything, but if for the next hundred years no Jamaican breaks any law or commits any crime, what would we do with the majority of the police force and police stations? Where would that leave the majority of our lawyers and their offices staffed with secretaries? The majority of our judges and their security detail, our lawmakers in Parliament and their chauffeurs, gardeners, helpers? What about our many security companies?

In 2019, it appears Jamaica has gotten to the point where crime is integral not only to the running of the country but to its very survival. The beneficiaries of crime can come in many forms, the majority of who may not be easily recognized for what they truly are. As it relates to crime, are we where we are today by chance? ‘Cui Bono’? Think, long and hard, about it.