Brazilian miner shot dead in North West robbery

Gunmen early yesterday morning shot a Brazilian miner dead during an apparent robbery in the Barama area, some 100 kilometres from Port Kaituma, in the North West District of Region One.

Relatives identified the dead man as Jose Francisco De Sousa Lema, whose body was still lying on the roadway last evening as a police team that had been dispatched to the area conducted investigations.

Jose Francisco  De Sousa Lema
Jose Francisco
De Sousa Lema

His father-in-law, Julian Cummings, who is originally from the Essequibo Coast, was also battered during the attack and sustained wounds to the head. He was a patient of the Matthew’s Ridge Hospital up to press time and reports are that he is to be transported to the Georgetown Hospital today for additional medical attention.

Late yesterday afternoon, Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said that a report had been made and a team has been dispatched to the area. He said that the team has not returned and there is no other information available.

Lema’s wife, Rabika, told Stabroek News via telephone that information about the attack was sketchy.

The woman, whose five-month-old is the youngest of her four children with the man, said that he and her father were en route to Port Kaituma from the backdam area when they were attacked by gunmen. The last she heard was that the police had gone into the area to collect the body, which was still lying on the roadway.

Rabika said that her father was gun-butted to the head and sustained a gaping wound.

Meanwhile, Lema’s sister-in-law, Samantha Cummings, said that the two men had left his camp on an ATV bike for Port Kaituma at around 6am. They were attacked about two hours later.

Cummings told Stabroek News that her sister called her hours after and informed her that their father walked back to the camp and informed the persons there about what had transpired.

According to Cummings, Lema had been a miner in Guyana for the past nine years.

He is the most recent Brazilian national to lose his life in the interior, where there have already been 17 murders for the year, most of which are unsolved.

In March this year, Brazilian miner Antonio Dos Santos, 46, was shot dead near Omai when armed men invaded a mining “dragger” in the Essequibo River. Reports are that between 1am and 4am on March 8, a number of men armed with guns boarded the “dragger” and held up workers. The workers comprised five Brazilian nationals including a woman and two Guyanese men. The gunmen demanded gold and cash. The victims, according to reports, were tied up and assaulted, during which Dos Santos was shot dead.

Meanwhile, on June 11, the bloodied body of Brazilian national Maria Jose Assis Bazerra was found in a mining camp at Tiger Creek, Backdam, Mahdia, which had been operated by her and her husband. Persaud had  told this newspaper last week that police are looking for a person of interest in the case and noted that there is nothing so far to suggest that the 47-year-old woman was a victim of robbery.

Police had initially arrested 11 men, including the woman’s husband, in connection with the murder. Reports are that the woman’s husband had left her and some workers in the mining camp to travel to a Potaro location to search for more workers. The woman was later discovered bloodied and with her wrists tied. She had been repeatedly stabbed to the head.

Over the years, Brazilians miners as well as Guyanese miners have been an easy target for bandits. In some cases, some sustain injuries while others are killed. With the increase in mining activity in the interior regions of Guyana, the incidents of robberies have been on the increase. Police face difficulties in tackling this issue since they lack the manpower and the equipment to patrol these areas, some of which are located in rough terrain.

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