Sangeeta’s funeral divides community (Guyana)

Staebroek News (Guyana), Gaulbert Sutherland, April 2, 2010

‘Nobody felt for her, nobody cared for her’

Cummings was the pastor at the funeral, who performed the “exorcism” on Sunday. The teen’s grandmother, Chaitranie Ramotar had said that on that day, claiming that Persaud was demon-possessed, Cummings and several church members “treated” the girl for hours by pounding her stomach until she bled. She died later that day at the West Demerara Regional Hospital.  

Sangeeta Persaud was buried in a corner of the La Grange cemetery. There was little prayer, only a few voices sung. One girl clutching a white kerchief sobbed quietly and clung to her mother.

 

Her mother shouted at the pastor. Others jeered and shouted insults while the man stood quietly with a few members of his congregation around him. Some shouted back. Police watched. Persaud’s father cried and stroked her face. He cried that he would avenge her.

 

Four days after she died following an “exorcism”, Persaud called ‘Sheena’ was yesterday buried as relatives and residents of her Canal Number Two community quarrelled with each other. Her parents were accused of neglect with one relative shouting that it was she who took care of the 14-year-old and the teen had moved from relative to relative before being taken in by her grandmother.  Life was unfair to Sheena, the pastor Ewert Cummings said. She was experiencing problems and sought someone to confide in, he said. He told a gathering at the girl’s mother home in Parfait Harmonie that his wife had wanted them to take her in. “Nobody felt for her, nobody cared for her”, he added. Where were the residents of Canal Number One then, he asked.  A woman then shouted an accusation against him. Cummings was the pastor, who performed the “exorcism” on Sunday. The teen’s grandmother, Chaitranie Ramotar had said that on that day, claiming that Persaud was demon-possessed, Cummings and several church members “treated” the girl for hours by pounding her stomach until she bled. She died later that day at the West Demerara Regional Hospital. An autopsy failed to determine what caused her death. Cummings said what was reported in the media was not true. He said he had done a lot of reflection.

 

He was told to just pray. The majority of those gathered moved away. They said he should not be there.

 

 

Earlier, Sheena’s body was taken to her grandmother’s home at Canal Number One and stayed for about three minutes for residents to view. As Ramotar wailed, the body was whisked away to Parfait Harmonie to the teen’s mother home.

 

Residents gathered under a hastily built shed with plastic covering, to view the body. Persaud’s mother, Nanda, cried while a relative shouted to her accusing her of neglecting Persaud and her other children. Some told the woman to be quiet.

 

“Y’all gat to talk. Let people know. Let she talk”, another urged with support from others, who said that the funeral was the “place to talk”. The woman said Persaud stayed “at 20 people” because her mother did not want her.

 

 

 

Persaud’s father, Chinee Persaud turned up shouting for his ex-wife and the pastor and said he would avenge his daughter. He spoke to his dead daughter. “If I coulda keep you alive, I woulda keep you alive”, he said. He shouted and hurled abuse at his wife and the pastor. He said he could not have kept her with him because she was female.

 

“Since when you love she. When last you give your daughter something”, one woman asked him while others questioned him about his absence from his daughter’s life. They urged him and others who were shouting insults to be quiet.

 

“It na easy for the woman. They going down too hard on the woman”, one relative said, adding they are all humans.

 

By this time Nanda, her husband, the pastor and other relative had retreated into the tiny house. Persaud stormed it twice but was prevented from entering, as relatives screamed. Some shouted in support while others said that those involved in the “exorcism” should be jailed.

 

 

Eventually Persaud was led away and the Pastor attempted to start the service. The mourners split into two groups, moved away, spoke and continued hurling insults. As Cummings began to speak, he was told to just pray as the two groups were becoming tense. The police were called. “Let the child have a peaceful funeral”, urged one woman.

 

As Sheena was buried, more insults and jeers erupted between the two groups and police had to caution Persaud. There was scarcely any tears, few prayers and a few muffled voices sang a hymn at the La Grange cemetery yesterday.

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