– sections of community furious
Most of the residents in the Amerindian Village of Kamarang in Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) have raised concerns after a convicted child molester who has been elected to the office of Toshao.
Residents say they were shocked when the Returning Officer declared victory in favour of Luther Krammer.
A senior member of Kamarang Village spoke to Guyana Times following the results, and it was then related that, a few years ago, Krammer had been accused of molesting a 9-year-old and had been sentenced to eighteen months in jail. The newly elected Toshao was released from prison only in 2017.
As per the Amerindian Act of 2006, nominations were held for the Office of Toshao, and a villager nominated Krammer, who accepted the nomination. Following the nomination, several villagers approached the Returning Officer and questioned the nomination, only to be met with silence.
“On the day of nomination, someone nominated a person who has a criminal record for child molestation, and he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison; and it has only been about a year ago since he was released from prison.
When that nomination was made, a person asked the returning officer whether it is right for a criminal, a person who has a criminal record, to be nominated to head a village, and the Retuning Officer didn’t answer at all,” the villager said.
“The very person won the contest, and lots of people, despite the fact that he won this election, are dissatisfied and very unhappy because he had won this election. We need an exposure to let the authorities know that such a thing we cannot really feel good about it, and that is the very matter that is bothering many of us,” the villager explained.
Krammer has been living in Kamarang for most of his life. Prior to his molestation conviction, he was a teacher at the Kamarang Primary School. It was while he was a teacher that he molested one of his students, and according to the villagers, there may be more victims.
Krammer has since been dismissed from his post as a teacher, and now works in the mining industry.
The villagers are now calling for another election, since they are dissatisfied with Krammer’s past and feel he would not be able to represent their interests.
The functions of the Village Council include providing planning and development of the village; managing and regulating the use and occupation of village lands; and providing strategic direction and advice to the village.
Efforts to contact both ministers of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs proved futile.
However, this is not the first time someone who is accused of child molestation would be elected to serve in governance. During the 2016 Local Government Elections, APNU-backed candidate for Constituency Thirteen (East and West Ruimveldt Georgetown), Winston Harding, created quite a stir after it was revealed that he was charged at least two times with child molestation. Unlike Krammer, he was never convicted for the offence.
Harding would eventually be elected as representative of the Constituency, and currently holds the post of Councillor in the Georgetown Municipality.
Following the allegations, Harding’s party had withdrawn support for him, despite its Campaign Leader, current Health Minister Volda Lawrence, saying that Harding’s sister, Sharon Harding, was responsible for the accusations, which were an ongoing family matter.