“Give us some more time,” is all Radica Thakoor hears whenever she checks with authorities on the now three-year-long probe into the death of her daughter, bank employee Sheema Mangar.
As she prepares herself for the third death anniversary, Thakoor is uncertain how much more she will have to wait for police to make discernable progress or even solve the case, which has continually fuelled criticism of the police force. Just three months ago, the Home Ministry said it was disappointed with the police probe.
Mangar, 20, was robbed of her mobile phone sometime after 6 pm on September 10 as she waited for transportation on North Road, close to Camp Street.
The Demerara Bank employee chased after the perpetrator, who jumped into a car. She jumped on the vehicle’s bonnet to stop him from fleeing but the man ran over her and dragged her to the intersection of Camp and Church streets. She died hours later at the St Joseph Mercy Hospital from a ruptured spleen, which was one of the many injuries she sustained.
The police had held a suspect and impounded his car but the man was released several days later.
Why have investigators failed to find at least one eye witness to the attack? This is the question that still lingers.
According to a source close to the investigation, the police failed miserably in their investigations. Based on his assessment of the handling of the case, ranks would have gotten an ‘F’ grade.
The source said that at the time of the robbery, there would have been dozens of persons in the area. He said that those very persons would have been there the next day and the days after and yet the police failed to turn up and attempt to find an eyewitness. The source noted that the area where Mangal was standing is where persons from the East Coast assembly to get transportation to go home daily and they wouldn’t just suddenly stop going there because of what had transpired.
Stabroek News has learnt that a woman who witnessed the attack has indicated that there were more than two persons in the vehicle—which has always been suspected, but she is afraid to come forward.
According to the source, investigators also failed to visit businesses in close proximity, particularly Regent Street, to ascertain if any employees were present at the time Mangar was robbed.
Unless the eyewitnesses, who can give a detailed description of the persons in that car, come forward or unless the police do proper ground work, the case will remain unsolved, the source said.
The source also observed that it was strange that Mangar would jump on the bonnet of a moving car just for a cell phone and suggested that there was more to what transpired.
Like the source, Thakoor believes there is more to her daughter’s death than is known and she says it is hard to believe that of all the persons who were standing on the road, her daughter was the only one singled out.
“I think that Sheema knew someone in the car. If she didn’t know someone she would not have jumped,” she said, while adding that she has pleaded over and over for eyewitnesses to come forward but to no avail.
The woman noted that friends of her daughter were also present when the robbery occurred but “even them failed her. Everyone failed Sheema.”
She has often thought about going back to the scene but finds it difficult because she is still in disbelief that her daughter is dead. “Things are still fresh for me. I wonder everyday what she would be like now,” she said.
Thakoor, who with her family is planning a memorial service to mark the third death anniversary, lamented that despite the wide publicity the case has attracted, nothing has happened and after all that she has gone through she has to question who is responsible for the law in this country. In her quest for justice, she has visited the police several times but always leaves without satisfaction. The frustrated woman said that she visited the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority Cecil Kennard and he too said to “give them [the police] some time.” She questioned how much longer she should wait, given that it has been almost three years since her daughter’s death. “I [am] waiting to see. I will give them some time. Three years coming up and Mr [Home Affairs Minister Clement] Rohee claims that he is on top of the case. This is beyond frustrating. They asked for time, so let me see how much time they will take,” she said, while adding that she remains hopeful that something will come out of the matter eventually.