'We are a nation of thieves'
The actions of some community members in Spur Tree, Manchester who recently looted a crashed liquor truck rather than assisting motorists, has led one of Jamaica's leading psychologists to suggest "we are a nation of thieves".
Dr Leahcim Semaj made the strong comments on Facebook on Sunday and repeated them yesterday as he reacted to the mass looting of the truck which was transporting rum.
"No matter how deprived you are, it doesn't mean that you have to behave in a depraved manner," Semaj said yesterday. Following the crash last week, residents immediately set about on a scavenger hunt. Some used bags, boxes and carts to help them steal bottles of rum from the scene.
"We have a culture in Jamaica that says that if something touches the ground it is not yours anymore. If cement falls off a truck, if drinks falls off a truck (it's stolen). We have seen the depravity even to the level that there are persons who are dying in the crashed vehicle sometimes and there are people taking off their watches," Semaj said.
He said that stealing has gotten into the popular culture and that Jamaicans who are disgusted at the behaviour of their countrymen should speak out. Metry Seaga, the president of the Jamaica Manufacturing Association, said he watched an amateur video of the incident and found the actions of the residents to be disgusting.
"It is really terrible that people didn't see the first course of action was to look about the person who was injured but to take away the product. It is a mentality that we have to get rid of in this country. It is disgusting. We are behaving less than we should be," Seaga said. Tanikie McClarthy-Allen, public affairs director of J Wray and Nephew, said yesterday that although the company lost all the products that were on board, it is thankful no lives were lost.
"We would like the first response for anybody in the circumstances, having had an accident, for the people in the environment to be showing concern for life, and where possible, to be assisting to protect property," McClarthy-Allen said. "It is not that we are not concerned. We have to accept what has happened which is one of our vehicles met in an accident, all of our stock on vehicle were looted, but more importantly we lost no life. There were no severe injuries and we were still able to fulfill our commitment to our customers."