The pastor at the centre of an exorcism of 14-year-old Sangeeta Persaud who subsequently died said he did nothing wrong and labelled newspaper reports surrounding the teenager’s death as “totally untrue”.
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Pastor Ewart Cummings said, “I just responded as a pastor of the church…Ungodly people would not understand certain things like driving out spirits”.
Cummings told Stabroek News yesterday that he did not want to comment further on the matter since according to him, reports on the string of events leading to the child’s death were untrue, including details provided to this newspaper by the child’s grandmother, Chaitranie Ramotar.
The teen, who resided with her grandmother at Canal Number Two on the West Coast of Demerara died last Sunday night at the West Demerara Regional Hospital following the episode. She was buried on Thursday at the La Grange cemetery after results of an autopsy proved inconclusive.
According to AP, Cummings said that the girl was taken to the church, the Christ Ambassadors Church, where he and several elders spent five hours praying for her as they pressed on her stomach and head. He said around 5 pm that day he drove the girl to the hospital because she had calmed down but was weak.
According to the AP report, Cummings said he had previously prayed for the teen’s mother and grandmother because they complained that evil spirits disrupted their sleep and tried to injure them. The child’s mother, Nandkumarie Jaikissoon, according to the report, did not dispute this, stating that, “I experienced the same thing at age 12,” adding, “That is why I did not rush her to the hospital. My heart did not tell me to rush her to the hospital.”
She said that her daughter had suffered from bad colds over several years and was recently tested for tuberculosis (TB) and the child was expected to return to the hospital later this month for results from blood tests and x-rays of her chest.
Relatives told this newspaper yesterday that Jaikissoon has temporarily relocated to the Corentyne area.
The death of the teen, has divided the community where she resided with her grandmother since she was 9 years old. At the funeral service on Thursday, relatives and members of the church quarrelled with each other. Pastor Cummings who officiated at the funeral was also chastised by mourners.
On Sunday, Ramotar said, they were having breakfast when Sangeeta suddenly put down her cup of tea and grabbed her. “She ah skin she eye and ah do so”, Ramotar said, shaking herself. Ramotar said she asked her granddaughter what was wrong with her, querying if her stomach or head was hurting but the girl, who had jumped on the bed, said no. This was at about 7:30 am.
She gave Sangeeta the tea and the girl drank it. However, after doing so Persaud began shaking again. “She jerk up the whole house”, Ramotar said. The girl then began vomiting and not knowing what was wrong with her granddaughter, Ramotar rubbed Limacol on her. “Me call pon she. Me tell she me never see you do so. Me ask if she catch fits”, recalled Ramotar. Neighbours heard the commotion and rushed over.
Sangeeta was placed on the floor with a pillow and sheets, with her grandmother unsure if she was having a seizure.
At 8am, the pastor for the Christ Ambassadors Church, located a short distance away, turned up. “He sey the girl demon possess make she behave so”, Ramotar recalled.
She said that the man spent three hours in the house “teking out jumbie from the girl”. At 11 am, saying that the church was a better place to “take out the demon”, the girl was taken there by the Pastor, Ramotar said.
Sunday service was over at this time and the pastor was joined by his wife and another “brother” and the man’s wife. The mother of the teen had also turned up. They locked the church and the men and women held the girl’s stomach and squeezed and pounded, Ramotar, who had gone with them, said. “How they ah ramp the girl belly to tek out the jumbie”.
Ramotar told this newspaper that lime and salt and “anointed oil” were forced down the girl’s throat.
Later, the girl was washed and the pastor took her to the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH). She died at 10 pm.