Dennie Quill, Columnist
An eight-year-old girl is cut down in a hail of bullets in Trelawny: the country gasps and moves on. But even before the news is digested about Friday night's murder, a man is shot to death in the same area on Monday.
What is most alarming is the fact that Murder No. 2 takes place a short dash from the police station. How is that for being brazen-faced and lacking respect for the lawmen? Everyone seems to know the motive - everyone, but the police.
Village folk started whispering about the lottery scam as soon as the dastardly act was committed on Friday night. Then there was talk that the theft of a magic jack, the device used for making overseas telephone calls, was at the core of the problems in the community.
The situation raises big questions for the police and the community. For instance, did the police not smell the whiff of discontentment among criminals? What about the much-touted community policing? Has it not reached Duncans? And did they not anticipate reprisal for the little girl's death?
Most of all, it raises questions for the community. If persons were aware of scamming activities, were they obliged to report to the police? Is it that persons in Duncans were so anxious to gain the spoils from this evil system, which targets mainly elderly foreigners, that they were prepared to feign ignorance? In other words, are there 'licky-licky' folk in Duncans who chose to look the other way, or even facilitated these criminals?
If indeed the lottery scam is the cause of the gun violence that claimed Imani Green's life, her blood is on the shoulder of every resident of that Trelawny village. When people condone illegality and criminality, blood is bound to spill over into the community. Hundreds have been stricken by heartbreak and devoured by grief in the years that this lottery scam has grown in western Jamaica and expanded to many villages and towns in this country.
This is why I am so disturbed by the posturing of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) as it worries about the possible negative effect of the story on visitor arrivals to Jamaica. Imani's story has been all over the news in Britain, naturally, because she is a British national.
ENOUGH NOT BEING DONE
But as shocking as Imani's death is, let's not forget that, cumulatively, some 300 killings, mainly in western Jamaica, have been linked to the lottery scam. Why has the JHTA not pressured the police and pressed the Ministry of National Security into cleaning up the lottery scam mess? I believe it is fair to say the JHTA and like organisations have been politely tiptoeing around the lottery scam issue, as long as it does not spill over into the foreign media and affect their earnings.
Only a week ago, the Police High Command and the minister of national security were doing some loud back-slapping about reduction in crime. But what about the lottery scam? In all the reporting, I have heard no mention of what new initiatives are being taken to end this evil.
Little Imani's death will no doubt leave a hole in the hearts of those who loved her. So innocent. So much promise left unfulfilled. A vastly worse offence is to allow this lottery scam to claim another life.
Dennie Quill is a veteran journalist. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.