The Berbice, Region Six teen who was raped and murdered was on Tuesday laid to rest.
Leonard Archibald, 13, went missing last week Sunday, after riding ahead of his three sisters he was accompanying home from a birthday party in the neighbouring village.
He was captured and sodomised and when he lost consciousness, he was bound and thrown into the Berbice River along with his bicycle. Two men of Sisters Village, East Bank Berbice have since admitted to the heinous act.
At Tuesday’s funeral, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) Chairman David Armogan called on residents to take back their communities from rogue elements, who have been terrorising residents mostly as a result of drug use.
According to Armogan, social problems have led many youngsters and even adults to turn to drug use, which in term makes them commit acts that are mostly illegal.
He said child abuse is one issue but the bigger picture will be to look at the root cause. Many at this point in time are focusing on the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause. He referred to that as surprising the sore while the disease remains.
Nevertheless, Armogan called on all to condemn the act which resulted in Leonardo’s death.
Armogan said the entire country was shocked at the events which unfolded and which led to the discovery of the missing teen’s body.
“Our region should not be known for these kinds of things. Our region should be a peaceful region where people are free to walk around and people are free to move as they like. I do not think it had anything to do with the fault of the child or the fault of the parent. I think the parent did all that that they can to protect their child and the child did all he can to protect himself but in the circumstances, there was a depraved mind. I believe that a normal human being cannot commit such a crime,” Armogan said while suggesting that the alleged perpetrator must be a “depraved man.”
President David Granger also expressed condolences to Leonard’s mother, Abigail Archibald, his siblings, other relatives, and friends.
In a statement from the Office of the President, the Head of State said he was deeply saddened to learn of the death of 13-year-old Leonard Archibald, under such tragic circumstances.
Also speaking at the funeral service was Social worker Rickford Ward, who called on all to unite in the fight to make the community safer. He said that the community allowed the situation to develop until murder was committed, noting that they did nothing when they should have been acting.
“We all should help to protect our children and also to help him to be reformed from his evil ways… If we as a community do not take firm serious action to prevent a reoccurrence of what has happened here, it will continue.”
On this note, Ward called on the Social Service Ministry to get into action.
Young Leonard was laid to rest in the neighboring village of Lansdale and leaves to mourn his mother, father and nine siblings.
The men who have since confessed to luring, sexually assaulting and killing the teenager are expected to appear in court sometime this week.
Meanwhile, Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) Director Ann Greene has spoken out against gruesome attacks on minors, noting that it was a wake up call for communities. This is as the Agency is of the belief that persistent intervention by residents in the area could have prevented the fatal outcome.
Reports are that residents in proximity to the location of the attack recalled hearing screams, but failed to report the incident.
Greene indicated that the CCPA has commenced consultations relating to the matter and in doing so, the Agency has met with the family of the now dead teen.
Given the reluctance to alert the authorities despite being alarmed by the screams, the Director posited that the tragedy could have been averted.
On that note, she lamented, “We could’ve gotten a better outcome for this child had the community been more involved and understand their roles and responsibilities. If you know of a predator in your community, that person must be identified, monitored and pushed to the criminal justice system.”
Responding to comments that reports were made, all of which were to no avail, Greene argued, “even if you say you reported to the Police, you best keep reporting this thing until action is taken. Here is where people can come out and stand up at the Police Station demanding action.”
Adding to her calls for intervention at the community level, the CCPA Director is also urging families to be more vigilant as it regards the welfare of their children. In fact, she noted that they must not only go into protective mode for the females, but attention must be paid to the males as well.
With the Berbice incident in mind, Greene reiterated that it was a wakeup call for communities and thereby emphasised the need for families, and by extension members of communities to be more invested in the protection and well-being of children, and to even be persistent when necessary.