By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday insisted that the necks of “murderous scumbags” in the country must be “popped” as he castigated the Christie administration for failing “miserably” in its obligation to keep Bahamians safe.
Suggesting that he was in full support of capital punishment as a means to arrest violent crimes in the country, the Free National Movement leader argued that criminality in the country had skyrocketed because the government had a policy of “catch, retain and release”.
He said until festering crime levels in The Bahamas could be controlled, the economy would fail to grow.
The comments came after three men were shot dead in two separate incidents on June 12.
One of the men, a church minister, was shot dead as he used the automated teller machine (ATM) of Scotiabank at Wulff Road and Jerome Avenue.
This, Dr Minnis said, was evidence that crime had reached uncontrollable levels, adding that based on the current homicide count, the country was on pace to surpass last year’s tally.
“Violent crimes and the fear of crime stops our lives,” Dr Minnis said during the 2016/2017 budget debate in the House of Assembly. “The record breaking murder count of 146 persons last year almost qualified the Bahamas as an armed war zone and already we have recorded 56 murders and on the way to meeting or surpassing last year’s record.
“Our economy, Mr Speaker, will not grow until we solve the issue of crime and as you know crime is a multifaceted issue, which requires multifaceted approaches (involving) the family, the church, civil society and the government. (They) must all join forces to combat this societal mess.
“Just the other day, a young man was gunned down at the ATM machine. We must, as hanging is on our books, we must hang these criminals. These murderous scumbags must be hung by the neck until they are dead.”
He continued: “The murderous scumbags must be hung as that is on our laws. Hang, hung, whatever…pop their necks.”
The Killarney MP went on to reiterate some of the FNM’s proposed crime fighting strategies should the electorate vote the party into office during the 2017 general election.
“We will create a safe Bahamas by collaborating with our social partners, the church, educators, social workers and the citizens at large to implement new crime fighting programmes.
“A major problem in our society is that our children are growing up without knowing the difference between right and wrong. They live in a culture that glorifies violence, disrespects authorities and are concerned only about their rights but not about their responsibility.
“Our aim, Mr Speaker, is not just to control behaviour, but to change it by directing their energies into positive channels by instituting conflict resolution programmes.”
The murder count for 2016 now stands at 56, according to The Tribune’s records, meaning 514 homicides have occurred under this administration in a little over four years.
From May 7, 2012 to December 2012 there were 70 recorded murders. In, 2013 police recorded 119 murders. In 2014 and 2015, police recorded 123 and a record 146 murders respectively.
On the 2012 campaign trail, the PLP erected billboards throughout New Providence that read “Under the FNM government 490-plus murders”. This was for a five-year period.
On Friday, Dr Minnis said the government, through many of its senior members, was attempting to shift responsibility for the country’s growing crime epidemic as opposed to addressing it.
He was responding to recent statements by Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe who asserted that all Bahamians bear blame for the nation’s crime woes.
However, Dr Minnis scoffed at this sentiment, lamenting that the PLP had failed to execute a major task it promised it would.
He also questioned Mr Wilchcombe’s thought process.
“Why should everyone else be blamed for the PLP’s failed leadership to fix the record-setting murder rates in the past four years?”
Dr Minnis maintained that hard-working Bahamians are being forced into isolation out of the fear of crime.
“They are being told by this government that they shouldn’t even do normal tasks such as go to the bank without bringing back-up,” he added. “Yet this government thinks they are not to blame for these problems.”