Threats of Death Are Nothing New in The Bahamas

Friday 17th, May 2013 / 08:20 Published by

In the Letters to the Editor column of the May 14, 2013 edition of a local newspaper was a letter from Kevin Evans, who wanted to know how many Bahamians took notice of community activist Rodney Moncur’s claims of receiving death threats and his house being intentionally set on fire.

Evans suggested that if Moncur’s hunch was right, whoever was responsible was setting a very dangerous precedent in The Bahamas.

I would like to inform Mr. Evans that in The Bahamas death threats and threats of bodily harm have been around the political arena since the advent of party politics in this nation. In fact, it actually started when the masses in this country started a cry for equal rights.

In the early 1950s, when the masses were agitating for equal rights in this country, the late Sir Etienne Dupuch, owner and publisher of The Tribune, was a leader and crusader for that cause.

This was before the formation of any political party in this nation or the advent of Lynden Pindling and company into Bahamian politics.

The royal governor at this time was Sir Ritchie Sanford. He was a friend of Etienne Dupuch, and like Dupuch he was sympathetic to the plight of the masses. He is buried at St. Matthew’s cemetery. Get busy and do some research. The year was 1951.

Sir Ritchie Sandford was replaced by Major General Sir Robert Neville (Royal Marines retired). Governor Neville was also friendly with Etienne Dupuch.

Not long after his arrival, the commissioner of police got information that death threats were being made against Etienne Dupuch for the support he was giving the masses via The Tribune.

During the general election campaign for the 1972 general election, the leader of the Free National Movement, the late Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and a number of the ‘Dissident 8’, were beaten with chairs, pieces of wood and any missile that was at hand by political goons in Lewis Yard, Grand Bahama. A number of police officers under the command of a deputy superintendent of police stood like statues without moving a finger to stop the onslaught.

Sir Cecil very wisely ordered his men not to retaliate. That move probably saved a number of their lives and kept some of them out of prison.

In the Fresh Creek, Andros by-election of 1971, George Capron was beaten very badly by a political mob and I almost lost an eye after being struck in the face with a bottle of beer by a member of that same mob.

In 1972, after receiving a number of death threats, an attempt to carry out the threat failed only because the goon was ignorant of the capabilities of the weapon that he was using, and the bullet — after piercing the window of my bedroom — dropped in front of me. The range used was too long for the weapon.

Another vicious execution was carried out by political goons in 1972. Space does not allow for details; but you seem to be an intelligent young man Mr. Evans, do a little research please.

As Mr. Moncur’s case is before the courts I will not comment on it or Mr. Moncur’s woes, beyond saying that it appears he seems to have self-destructed. This happens often in the case of wanna-be leaders.

As a senior police officer in the mid-1960s, Acting Commissioner of Police the late George Lavell instructed me to carry out a search of the premier’s (L.O. Pindling) residence on Soldier Road because of a reported bomb planted there.

I did not find a bomb or any evidence of one ever being there; but The Herald accused me of planting one there.

There is nothing new about death threats to politicians or other persons of standing in our communities in this country. The precedent was set by politicians long before you or Rodney Moncur ever arrived on the scene.

You should do some research on your topics before committing them to print. During the 1960s, a number of high profile officers, including yours truly, were receiving so many threats of death and serious bodily harm that we were issued firearms that we carried concealed 24/7 for our protection. The occasion never arose where any of us had to use them.

By: Errington W. I. Watkins

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