By Mario Joseph
The families of the four fishermen who were allegedly attacked by pirates and tossed overboard in Suriname waters on the night of July 8th, suspect that there is more to the men’s disappearance, citing several inconsistencies in the boat owner’s story.
Relatives of the four fishermen in separate interviews with Stabroek News questioned the stories told by the captain of the boat, Feroze Hack – who is the sole survivor of the hijacking – and the boat owner Deochand Bharat. Police are yet to complete an analysis of evidence collected from the boat which floated ashore at De Hoop, Mahaica on Monday.
Missing are Andrew Gopie called ‘Butt’, 41, of Annandale Sand Reef, East Coast Demerara, Vinesh Drunarine called Dinesh or Monkey Brain, 24, of Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, and Raymond Gomes, 37, and Chandrapaul Jallim, 19, both of Recht-door-zee, West Bank Demerara.
Speaking to Stabroek News, Gopie’s sister, who did not want her name published, said that she returned to Guyana on July 7 and was told that her brother had left on a fishing trip two days prior.
The upset woman recounted that her neighbour in Lusignan, where she resides when she is in Guyana, gave her the news which was delivered by Bharat’s wife over the phone. The woman said that she felt disturbed and could not accept what she was being told.
The following day, she recalled, she contacted Bharat and Hack who told her two different stories which immediately upset her. “It’s not easy,” the woman sobbed. “You could imagine being told a story like that?” she questioned further asking how did the captain alone survive?
“Why would the men in the water scream, “Ow Cappy save we na” when he was supposedly also in the water,” the distressed woman added. “The first set of reports you heard was that everybody got chopped up and that Feroze jump off the boat and swim for hours, then it change,” she said. “How could he even swim that long or far,” the woman further questioned. “My contacts over there saw Feroze and he has not a single chop on his body and he is not even in police custody,” the woman asserted. She said that she is waiting on Hack to return to Guyana “so that I could get the truth because I can’t leave this country without getting to the bottom of this.”
The woman also said that Bharat was unhelpful and has been dodging her calls. She opined that the boat owner is satisfied because he got his boat back with one of the engines intact. She said that she would like to see the matter investigated properly because she is not accepting what Bharat, Hack or the authorities are saying. The woman said that she wants to go out and look for herself but could not because Bharat has not fulfilled a promise to get a boat for them to go out.
Meantime, Drunarine’s sister Jenny Joseph recalled that after getting the news she telephoned her father at Uitvlugt and left a message with his wife. Drunarine, after reconnecting with his father Rudy Drunarine, lived with him for the past four years. They had not been together since his childhood when Rudy and Vinesh’s mother separated.
Rudy told Stabroek News that he was at Tuschen on his way home when his wife called him urging him to hurry home. He said that by the time he reached his gate, his grandson ran out and said, “Dinesh dead.” His wife then related the details of the incident to him after which he called an associate and got some more information. The following day, he said, he visited Bharat’s house and spoke to the man’s wife, who informed him that Bharat was in Suriname.
He then telephoned Bharat and spoke to both him and Hack until his credit ran out. Rudy said that Feroze promised to return to Guyana by this weekend to sit down with all the families and explain what happened.
Rudy said that he felt “messed up” because he feels he has lost his son whom he only knew and loved in his adulthood.
He recounted the day he last saw Vinesh alive saying that Bharat came to his house that Saturday morning and told the youth that he had to go on the fishing trip because the crew was short and he owed him money. Rudy said that both him and his son objected but eventually obliged, with Vinesh promising that this would be his last trip with that boat. Rudy said that he would like to see the authorities do a timely and proper investigation so that he and the other affected families can have justice.
Relatives of Gomes and Jallim, speaking jointly, said that they are trying to get answers. They said that they believe that the captain and boat owner know something more and want the matter investigated properly. “I just want them to find them dead or alive, I want them to come home,” Jallim’s partner Nicola Ogeer said. Gomes’ mother, Pamela Maikoo, shared this sentiment.
The five-man crew left the Meadowbank Wharf on July 5th and after three days of fishing in Suriname waters, were allegedly attacked by pirates at night. The pirates reportedly tied them up with rope, and relieved them of their cargo and possessions before transferring them to the pirate boat and leaving the other boat to drift.
The crew was then taken deeper into the Corentyne River, where they were blindfolded and tossed overboard. Only Hack, of Lusignan, survived the ordeal and is still in Suriname assisting with investigations there.
Crime Chief Leslie James said that the police are awaiting Hack’s return to Guyana to further the investigations here.