‘We cannot fight crime with crime’ – Benn tells residents protesting murders of Henry boys

Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn

A high-level Government team on Tuesday afternoon visited the communities in Berbice where protests over the gruesome murders of two teenagers have escalated into lawlessness resulting in some persons being beaten and robbed.

The team included Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn, Minister Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud, Security Advisor to the Minister of Home Affairs Harry Gill.

In urging residents to conduct themselves lawfully, Benn asserted; “We cannot fight crime on crime.”

He said the Government has an obligation to ensure that the matter regarding the murders is resolved “without fear or favour, but we cannot continue a situation which would have continued law breaking and the piling on of lawlessness on crime”.

Benn appealed to residents to work to ensure that law and order is maintained “so development and peace between the communities could continue to exist”.

“So I am appealing to you all, as adults, as people who know better…that we do the things which will restore peace in the community and a resolution of the problem which occurred; and that we have an analysis of it so that there is no re-occurrence”.

DEAD: Isaiah Henry and Joel Henry

The badly-mutilated bodies of 16-year-old Isaiah Henry and 19-year-old Joel Henry of West Coast Berbice (WCB) were discovered almost one day after they went missing. They reportedly left on Friday to pick coconuts in the backdam.

Their disappearance prompted family members to launch several search parties to look for them. After hours of searching, the badly-chopped bodies were discovered among the bushes and were partially covered in mud.

The murders have sparked outrage in the community resulting in fiery protests, some of which have become violent, with some passersby claiming that they were robbed and beaten. Several roads were also blocked over the past two days preventing commuters from getting to their destinations freely.

A section of the road blocked off during the protests at West Coast Berbice

In an address to the nation on Monday, President Irfaan Ali made a passionate appeal to the residents to express their emotions in a manner that is lawful and respectful and allow the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to carry out its duties uninterrupted.

“Whatever you do in demonstrating your emotions, I speak to you to do so in a peaceful manner, in a respectful manner…I understand the hurt,” the President urged.

The President also cautioned all Guyanese to be very careful regarding their statements and comments on social media so as to avoid the situation deteriorating.

Five persons have since been taken into custody including a 57-year-old man upon whose estate there were what appeared to be bloodstains, a handyman who worked with the estate owner, and his son.