Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter
- A mother’s desperate cry
Homeless, with no money and buffeted by a seething depression triggered by what she calls a lacklustre justice system, 40-year-old mother, Taneisha Spence, has seen her whole life crumble before her.
With tears welling up in her eyes, Miss Spence related that her tale of woes began when the six-apartment board house in which she and her three daughters lived at Porto Bello Mews, Montego Bay, was burnt to the ground by fire, purportedly set by a young man in the community on Monday, March 26.
“We lost everything. I had over $100,000 Jamaican dollars and a hundred US dollars in the house; all of that went up in flames. The birth certificates, our clothes; all we had was the clothes on our backs. The dress I am now wearing is not mine. I have no money, nothing”, explained Miss Spence.
Miss Spence, who is a practical nurse who works in Barbados, returned to Jamaica in October last year and was advised by her husband that a young man in the community was making advances towards their fifteen-year-old daughter.
“This boy is like a plague. I had a talk with him and my husband had a talk with him and he stopped for a while but my husband left the island in March to seek employment overseas, and this boy not seeing him going to work in the days began to take set at my gate. My daughter said ‘Mommy I am afraid of this boy’ so I went and told him she is a child, leave her alone,” said Spence.
He, however, persisted and began making demands of Spence to give him money; she did not and went to the police station to make a report and was given a receipt to take to the Family Court to take out a restraining order. Spence later made a report to the Mount Salem police who came to the community but upon seeing the lawmen, the young man fled.
Spence related that the young man returned to the area and began to make demands that she remove a light on the outside of the house as it was disturbing him.
“He began speaking about it a week before the fire that the lights must be taken down but I did not pay him any mind. So, the Sunday night he was adamant that I remove the light so I said to him ‘This is my house and my yard so what you want in my yard.’ But I believe the light was projecting in a storeroom in the yard, and he may be staying there. The boy threatened to burn the house down. So I went to the police and filed a report”, she explained.
She divulged that she did not take the threat to burn down her house lightly because the young boy had burnt out and shot at another neighbour not too long ago.
She said she felt uncomfortable and took her children to her mother’s house on Sunday, March 25.
On the fateful day of Monday, March 26, Spence said she drove the car to the brow of a hill close to where she lived, at which time the young man cut the tyres of the car and again issued a threat to her.
She wasted no time and went to the Freeport Police Station where she was told to speak to Superintendent McKenzie, but he was not available. It was while she was waiting to speak to another officer that she received a frantic call from her neighbour saying that her house was on fire.
“I literally begged the police to give me a lift up to the house because the boy set the house on fire and they told me they have no vehicle. I ran out into the yard and I begged an officer in a vehicle with three policemen, who helped me.”
She got there but the house was already engulfed in flames.
“The police have failed me on numerous occasions. I filed so many reports with them about this boy. I asked them to come and stay a little while in the community so they could apprehend him, but nobody could stay long enough to catch this boy. Now see what has happened.”
Spence says she is facing desperate times, and although she has received some assistance by way of basic food items, she has no money and no clothes. She has been trying to sell her car to get some money to replace lost documents, and to properly fend for her children but so far, there are no takers yet.
“I am desperate now, I need money to replace the documents. My daughters and I are due to leave the island, but we can’t do anything without money. This boy has wrecked our lives and the police have not done enough to help.”
She cried sexism, explaining that she outlined how the law enforcers could approach strategizing and executing techniques to detain the boy but they seemed to have not been taken into consideration. “I know how he moves because I have to watch him in order to protect my daughter. I told them exactly how to catch him but they did nothing still”. Spence questions why it is that in a State of Emergency, the law enforcers are unable to catch a small boy.