LACK OF respect and value for life; lack of confidence in and frustration with the pace of the justice system; influence from unruly elements; are the main reasons experts outlined that would cause citizens to engage in mob attacks and killings.
Over the last few weeks, Jamaica has been hit with an alarming number of mob attacks and killings across the island, as angry residents seek to carry out their own form of justice for crimes committed in their communities.
"Mob attacks happen because people are outraged and they want to see something done immediately. They don't grasp the concept that anywhere in the world, it is impossible to have a formal public response immediately," stated Donna Parchment Brown, executive director of the Dispute Resolution Foundation of Jamaica.
"People need to understand that even if someone is killed and we think we know who the killer is or may have even observed the killing, there is still a legal process that must happen for that person to be brought to justice, but I think there is some level of impatience about the length of the process."
Parchment Brown believes that having the requisite support system and agencies in communities across the island, which would include the police, victim support, dispute resolution, peace management, ministers fraternal, respected members of the community and councillors, would make a great difference in how people react to a tragedy.
"A proper system in place in a community that can respond almost immediately if something happens, can determine the outcome. An event can occur, and depending on how it is handled by those who are present, it can either escalate into a mob killing or a candlelight sermon," she said.
Parchment Brown added that the fact that mob attacks and killings are more the exception than the rule, revealed that it was the unruly elements present at the time that often add to the tragedy, inciting a handful of like-minded persons to act on their emotional rage.
A suspected robber was killed by a mob in Portmore, St Catherine on the weekend.
Last Tuesday, a man was chopped to death in Savannah Cross, Clarendon after he was accused of killing a member of the community. Reports are that the man had asked a neighbour for money and when his request was refused, he attacked the man and beat him to death. Later that evening he was held by residents and chopped to death.
On October 1, a man was beaten and shot by residents in Hague Settlement, Trelawny after he was accused of raping and killing 23-year-old sales representative Toneva Forbes. Police found her body wrapped in a sheet under the bed of the accused with her hands and feet bound and mouth gagged. The police had gone in search of the woman after her colleague had reported her missing. The injured suspect is now in police custody.
Teacher stabbed to death
On September 28, high-school teacher 41-year-old Michael Melbourne was stabbed to death by a mob in Old Harbour, St Catherine. The mob became enraged after Melbourne hit down several persons with his Toyota Hiace motor vehicle, who were ironically assisting another hit and run victim, who later died.
In Zion, Trelawny on September 23, 42-year-old Donovan Hazley was hacked to death, his daughter injured and his house set ablaze by persons who were angered by the death of two boys in the community. The residents had gone in search of Hazley's stepson, who they accused of killing the boys, ten-year-old Alex Brown and seven-year-old Javani Brown.
Sharing the same view, counselling psychologist Pauline Bain noted that people can be influenced to act negatively or positively, especially when emotions are running high.
"I also find that in Jamaica we do not respect and value life, so anyone who offends you, you brush them off or you give them the gun sign. And I see it with children, adolescents and adults," stated Bain.