Legal Eagle: Crime wave still riding high
It was 9:45 p.m. It is Saturday night in Montego Bay. There is a gentle breeze. The temperature feels like 30 degrees Celsius. Hundreds of people are just walking about on the streets of Montego Bay, and they are just going about their own business. But somewhere in Montego Bay, 9:45 p.m. means something more to the family and friends of Mark Williams, the 16-year-old schoolboy from Cornwall College who was brutally murdered last Tuesday, January 9, at about 9:45 p.m. while coming from Bible studies.
Somehow, this murder seems different from some others and, as such, should not just be lumped with the crime rate statistics of St James or indeed Jamaica.
The time of death must be noted. It was 9:45 p.m. That is not a time when all preying eyes were closed in sleep. Thus, it speaks to the wanton disregard for law and order, especially in the parish of St James, which seemed to experience numerous daylight shootings.
The manner of death is also of concern. Again, police reports as published in the newspaper suggest that it was by way of gunshot. Regrettably, last year, the gun killed more than 1,500 Jamaicans. St James, although one of the smallest parishes in Jamaica and ironically dubbed a tourist Mecca, had more than 300 murders. None of this makes sense. The zones of special operation (ZOSO) and other crime initiatives have been implemented in St James, but the crime wave is still riding high.
It is also troubling that two of Mark Williams' murderers allegedly committed similar crimes before, but were out of bail. No doubt, this provides fodder for the prime minister, who wants legislation to prevent judges from even considering bail for persons charged with murder. Notwithstanding the above, I still believe that judges should continue to offer bail, in appropriate cases, to persons charged with murder, but maybe tougher conditions should be attached to persons who are offered bail for murder.
WHY NOT SAVE HIM?
In all of this, the Christian naysayers might be rejoicing and asking why God did not save Mark Williams, who was coming from Bible studies. The doubters may even point to the story of John The Baptist, who spent his entire adult life baptising people, warning of the coming of the Saviour and condemning corruption in high places. Yet he was arrested and jailed by Herod, who had his head chopped off and placed on a platter. Jesus, who he baptised, knew that he was in prison and did not even visit him there. Then it was Jesus' time. He was tried and crucified by the Jews. Again, the sceptic would say that Jesus could not save
himself. The simple explanation is that the will of God must be done. God did not grant the wish of Jesus to let 'this cup' pass from Him. So he had to die so that man shall live forever more.
In this day and age, man, including Mark Williams should have lived to three score years and ten. Hoodlums should not have snuffed out his life. As a 16-year-old boy in Montego Bay, he had many options and could have been in many other places, but it seems as if he was doing the right thing and that is why his short life must be celebrated and not forgotten.
My hope is that the Cornwall College past students, the church community in particular and the people of Jamaica in general should come together and provide a scholarship at Cornwall College in Mark Williams' name. The St James Municipal Corporation should name a street near to his community after him. The Ministry of Education should also seek to find creative ways to honour the memory of this slain student.
If there were any comforting words to be said to those who are left behind to grieve Mark's sudden and untimely passing, maybe the often-quoted words 'only the good die young' might be helpful. The decent law-abiding and God-fearing citizens of Jamaica must ensure that "at the going down of the sun and in the morning" we remember Mark. Sleep well, Mark. God loves you.