JCA’s Parliamentarians condemn brutal murders of Clarendon mother, four children

KINGSTON, Jamaica— Members of the House of Representatives led by the Speaker, Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert, on Tuesday condemned the savage killing of Clarendon mother, Kemisha Wright and her four children: 15-year-old Kimana Smith, 10-year-old Shemari Smith, five-year-old Kafana Smith, all girls, and her 23-month-old son, Kishaun Henry.

The five were found inside a room in their house in Cocoa Piece, Clarendon, on Tuesday morning with their throats slashed. The killings have sent shock-waves across the country and left some parliamentarians clearly affected on Tuesday.

“These are dark times for our country,” began the Speaker of the House as she got the proceedings underway.

“We …as a country, all of us, from all walks of life, must stop and reflect and pray for all of us as citizens of this country; the murders have to stop,” Dalrymple-Philibert said.

“It is senseless, it is gruesome, it is evil; it is barbaric. Outside is dark, the clouds are dark. They’re hanging over us and all around us. Today is a dark day in this country,” she told her colleagues.

“As a mother, as a female, as a citizen, as a parliamentarian…I am just beside myself,” Dalrymple-Philibert expressed.

For her part, a visibly shaken Education Minister, Fayval Williams, who visited the family home for several hours earlier in the day said, “Madame Speaker I hope we will never have another one of these.”

Clearly sighing, Williams reiterated that “It is my heartfelt hope that we will never have to go through another one of these again”.

“There’s nothing else I could do this morning when I got the news than to make my way to the community, to be there to offer whatever support I could,” Williams said.

She shared that when she got to Cocoa Piece it appeared that entire community had turned out to offer support to the grieving family. Williams was particularly touched by Wright’s mother.

“You cannot imagine the state she was in, the sorrow, the crying. All I could do was hold her hand for the two or three hours I was there; just stand by her side and hold her hands,” said Williams, as her voice cracked.

“In her sorrow, in her crying you could hear her say it’s my only daughter, it’s my only grandchildren and they’re all gone in one shot, wiped out,” she added.

The minister assured that her ministry will offer all the support it can to the bereaved family, including psychosocial and financial.

Williams said that as she heard the conversations around her she concluded that “there is no policing that could have prevented the tragedy”.

“This requires transformation in the lives and hearts of persons. It requires us at the education ministry to redouble our efforts from very early, to teach them restorative justice, to teach them how to settle differences from very early,” she said.

A cousin of Wright’s, 23-year-old Roshane Barnett, otherwise called ‘Jett’ of Wilson Run, Trelawny and Papine, St Andrew, has since been taken into custody in connection with the killings.

Also speaking in the House on Tuesday, Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, condemned what he described as a brutal and savage crime. He noted that Jamaica has seen some brutal murders over the years, including 19 people being shot in a single incident with seven succumbing to their injuries.

“But this (Tuesday) morning’s event has a certain savagery to it that is hard to understand…the slaughter and butchery of (a mother)…and her children in the same room. This is a savagery and brutality of unequalled proportions,” Chang remarked.

“It is an event that must cause us to pause and think again. There is a pall of violence at large in our country that affects all of us and we have to examine how we go forward to deal with this kind of savagery,” Chang added.

In the meantime, Opposition leader Mark Golding said the killings had a “degree of savagery that indicates a certain mentality which is disturbing and depraved”.

“And it indicates that our country has a problem with violence which is multifaceted, it is not limited to the kinds of violence that has generally been preoccupying those with responsibility for trying to improve the national security of the country which is organised criminal violence around extortion, money laundering, scamming, and other forms of criminal activity,” he said.

Golding said the slaughter of the family appears to be another instance of a willingness to go to extremes to ventilate whatever hurt feelings or anger may have been preoccupying the mind of the perpetrator.

“This speaks to a need for us to have a serious programme of anger management and teaching life skills around how to deal with stress and adverse situations and perceived disrespect,” Golding said.

“For the country to move forward from this dark place we are now, we need to find interventions that can tackle these issues. Apart from law enforcement, the psychosocial issues bedevilling the society require other forms of interventions as well,” he stated.

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