The relatives of a cancer patient who died last week are facing allegations that they continually abused her up until the last days of her life—a charge that they strongly deny.
Reports of the abuse that breast cancer patient Sandra Alli, 42, suffered prior to her death led to the intervention of social workers, who moved her to the Georgetown Public Hospital on September 10. Alli died at the hospital on the morning of September 13.
As her health deteriorated, Alli’s close friend Sharon Harding told Stabroek News, her mother and siblings with whom she lived started abusing the woman. Alli’s mother, Stella Jacobs has since denied the allegations and said that neither she nor her sons ever did anything to hurt her. “We never abused her [Sandra] and I don’t know why these people are making all these allegations,” the woman said.
However, Harding alleged that Alli had suffered abuse at the hands of her mother for years. On September 10, when Alli was moved from the home by probation officers, police and several friends, marks of violence were visible on her body. The woman, according to Harding, had bruises on her right hand and a wound to the neck. “She told me that her brother Carl tried to strangle her and told her that she had to die,” Harding recounted. “It was neighbours who called me and other friends and told us what was happening to Sandra.”
In a statement to the police, a probation officer wrote that they had received repeated reports about Alli being abused in her home. In company of another colleague, the probation officer had visited Alli’s home on September 10. “I did not observe a dark red blotch on her right arm,” the officer wrote, “but noticed that her left arm appeared to be broken, as well as her neck appeared be to broken.”
During a subsequent interview, the officer further wrote, Alli recounted to them instances of abuse she had suffered at the hands of mother and brothers Carl and Arjune Jacobs.
The Ministry of Human Services has since ordered that a post-mortem examination be conducted on Alli’s body. The autopsy is expected to be performed this morning.
‘Is not true…’
Stella Jacobs, who visited this newspaper’s Robb Street offices along with her son Carl and their attorney Gary Ramlochan, provided a copy of a death certificate, which showed that her daughter died of “Terminal Cancer.”
Ramlochan told this newspaper that his client was in a state of distress and just wanted to conduct her daughter’s last rites. Alli, he explained, was being treated for cancer and had been treated extensively. The woman had also undergone radiation therapy and this would have weakened her.
The woman’s father, who only identified himself as “Jacobs,” also insisted that the allegations against his wife and sons were false. “Is not true, nobody never do anything like that to her. We never beat her or lock her in no room or anything like that,” he said at the Lot 117 West Ruimveldt home where the abuse allegedly took place.
As the man stood speaking with the media, residents shouted to him to stop “lying” and alleged that they had seen his wife beating him as well. “I am a sickly man. I suffered a stroke and I don’t work…my wife is a businesswoman and she be around the place,” he said.
Sharon Harding and other friends said they are not willing to drop the matter. Harding explained that it was she and a group of concerned persons who reported the instances of abuse to the Human Services Ministry. The same day Alli was moved from the house, Harding recalled, her mother had also been taken into police custody. However, she was subsequently released after police informed her that a PME would be conducted on her daughter’s body. “This woman [Stella] was supposed to return to the police station to fill out a form before the post-mortem could be done but she delayed going and that is why Sandra’s body is still there in that morgue,” Harding explained.
From September 10 to the morning of September 13 when Alli died, Harding was with the woman and said Alli reportedly told her about the instances of abuse she had suffered.
Residents living near the Jacobs’ home also alleged that the woman was being abused. “When you stand up out on de road or you stand up over in me yard,” a neighbour told this newspaper, “you coulda see right in that house but she [Stella] put zinc on the windows and so now.”
The neighbour alleged that on any given night she could see Stella, Carl or Arjune hitting the deceased. This was also reported by six other residents living along the same street. Another woman, who lives at a different location in the area, but normally passed by the Jacobs’ house during the evening, also said the same thing. “Sometimes I does want to know is what going on in there,” the woman, who declined to have her name published, said. “They does be beating she like a lil child in that place.”
Alli, the neighbour said, lived with her parents, both in their late 60s, and two brothers Carl and Arjune. Another sister lives at another location. The eldest Jacobs sibling, Raymond, went missing in 1996.
Meanwhile, residents also voiced concerns about the more than 20 underfed dogs in the Jacobs’ yard. The dogs, residents said, were ravenous and would be extremely dangerous to the nearby students if they managed to escape from the yard. The Jacobs’ residence is opposite the West Ruimveldt Primary School.
“Look at that fence,” one parent said pointing to the dilapidated structure surrounding the Jacobs’ house. “If one of them animals get out of there then it gonna be trouble for these children… I would hate to know that my son here and gets bite by one of them dogs.”
Alli was married but separated from her husband several years ago, her friends said. She was the mother of a 12-year-old and her friends have expressed concerns abut the child’s well-being. After the matter surrounding Alli’s death is settled, they said, they intend to petition the Ministry of Human Services on the child’s behalf.