There is no evidence of foul play in the death of Natasha Nazamudeen, the 15-year-old girl who allegedly hanged herself in her bedroom three weeks ago, but police say they are continuing to look into the case, which has stirred protests.
But Mohamed Nazamudeen, the girl’s father, maintains his belief that she did not kill herself and he has said that the policeman who had arrived first at the scene the day his daughter’s body was discovered was shifting his statements.
He said that the police constable first told him that he had seen Natasha’s body lying on her bed in her room but later said that that he had seen it hanging from a beam in the ceiling. However, neighbours who rushed to Natasha’s house that afternoon when her mother screamed out for help said that they had found the girl lying on the bed and her mother was holding her and crying. They said that the police arrived an hour after they reported her death.
Mohamed said that he had begged the police to carry out a thorough investigation into the girl’s death after he was told by that same police constable in the presence of senior officer at the Lenora Police Station that the blind which Natasha had reportedly used to hang herself was misplaced. “Me daughter ain’t hang herself,” he told Stabroek News yesterday.
But when Stabroek News contacted Police Public Relations Officer Ivelaw Whittaker, he said the blind that Nazamudeen reportedly used to hang herself was in police custody.
He also said that the post-mortem results revealed that the girl died of asphyxiation by hanging.
Whittaker explained that the police had no evidence of foul play but would continue to look into the matter.
He also said that he understood the trauma the parent must be feeling but the evidence revealed that the girl had indeed committed suicide.
The death of Natasha Nazamudeen, and the subsequent suicide of her friend, Safraz Sattaur, 16, who hanged himself last Friday—reportedly after questioning by welfare officers over the girl’s death—has triggered protests in the villages of Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara and Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo, with calls for justice to be served.
The villagers of Tuschen, who knew Nazamudeen, said that they refuse to believe the girl took her own life.
A close friend of Natasha, who also attended Stewartville Secondary, said that she was saddened by the news of her death but refused to believe that she killed herself.
The friend’s father told this newspaper that his daughter was ill since she had heard the news and also confided that Natasha told her everything about her life and not once did she ever signal that she wanted to end it. Another friend close to Natasha said that she was shocked when she heard that she had taken her life.
She said that her friend and former schoolmate never appeared to be bothered by anything and was always quiet. She said that the girl never disclosed much about her life at home.
A neighbour said that when she had heard Natasha’s mother scream she and other neighbours rushed over to see what had happened. “We hear the screaming. She said, ‘No! Natasha No!’ And when we run in we see the lil girl on the bed and her mother next to she. She tell we that Narissa hang sheself. We see the silky blind hanging from the roof but when we feel her, she de already cold and we ain’t see no mark on she neck or nothing looking like she hang sheself, just the cloth,” the neighbour said.
A Stewartville Secondary School teacher, who asked not to be named, said that during the general assembly on Monday, the school’s head teacher asked the children to come forward and speak out if they were in any way abused or mistreated. She explained that the school works closely with the counselling agency Help and Shelter two times every month.
In her address, she added, the head teacher urged every child to speak out to their teachers, Help and Shelter workers or their peers if they had any difficulties. She said that teachers of Natasha and Safraz were shocked when they heard that the teenagers had hanged themselves.
She also said that last Friday the head teacher was visited by welfare officers from the Ministry of Education and they asked her if she was ever aware that Natasha was abused by her parent. She said that the teacher explained that she was not capable of saying anything about the girl since she was quiet and spoke little to anyone. She also said that the two teenagers were never unruly or troublesome.
Last Friday, Natasha’s aunt, Lila Jaman, said that a white bus marked Ministry of Education on the side stopped in front of their yard in Ruby, East Bank Essequibo and asked for Natasha’s father. She said that she had asked them who they were and they told her that they were Ministry of Education welfare officers and they were investigating whether Natasha was ever abused. She said that she told them that when she was preparing the girl’s body for the funeral, she had seen bruises on her hands, what looked like lash marks and when she checked thoroughly she saw other marks of violence across the girl’s back and legs. “I then call in Natasha daddee fa see,” she added.
That same day, villagers reported seeing a white bus marked Ministry of Education parked in front of Safraz Sattaur’s home.
The villagers said that they had overheard the persons in the vehicle, who wore Ministry of Education welfare badges, threatening Sattaur. The men said that they had told the officers to stop but they had continued after they had left. They said that after the bus left Sattaur’s residence, they approached the young boy and he was shaking in fear and crying because he said that the officers threatened him and told him that “he ga guh court fa the girl and he gon get jail.” The men said that fifteen minutes later, when the boy’s parents arrived back home from the city, they found their son hanging in his bedroom.
Stabroek News tried to contact the acting Minister of Education Dr Frank Anthony and was told that he was in a meeting. The newspaper then contacted the office of the Chief Education Officer Olato Sam but he was said to be unavailable.