The aftermath …of the Mahdia horror

The nation continues to grapple with the tragedy of the Mahdia horror. And what else could it be when 19 children are killed while trapped in an inferno?? We associate “inferno” with Dante’s vision of hell – but surely, these children didn’t deserve that kind of torment, as they gasped for breath in the smoke before perishing. It’s now been revealed that the fire was set by one of the students in retaliation for being punished for an infraction. Having her phone confiscated drove her to burn the place down with her fellow students inside.
Attention’s gonna now shift to this fifteen-year-old student. Your Eyewitness agonizes on what went through her mind to commit such an act. She didn’t realize the fire would consume the entire dorm, did she? She was trying to scare the dorm mother, whom she felt had thwarted her. It had to’ve been done in a fit of anger and recklessness. But she didn’t perish…so the question is: how’d she manage to do that, when she was the one who started the conflagration??
We still haven’t gotten a full description of the internal layout of the dorms that became a death trap for some, but not for others. We’re told that the windows were grilled – so the girls would’ve known to not even attempt to exit through them. Was there any exit other than the door we saw in the picture, and which was locked?? The report that’s been filed with the DPP would have the details of the firemen’s investigation.
The question being asked of the DPP is: how would she be charged?? She’s not an adult. But last year the law was amended to allow minors to be tried if they committed a crime along with adults. Then your Eyewitness remembers that a 17-year-old was charged for murder a few years ago. What’s most likely is that the perpetrator at least is gonna be charged for manslaughter, since minors supposedly can’t have the requisite mental state to commit murder! But since she knew about the barred windows and locked door, shouldn’t a fifteen-year-old have known there was a strong possibility of a conflagration developing?? Especially when – according to information – she used an accelerant!!
There’s understandably been calls by the grieving parents for punishment of whoever’s responsible for the horror. But “responsibility” covers a wide span, doesn’t it?? Are those who barred the windows and doors – without providing alternative quick escape routes – also responsible?? As your Eyewitness noted earlier, he hopes that henceforth there’s gonna be enforcement of the fire codes to prevent such a recurrence.
But remember, after the floods of 2005, regulations were passed that all houses must be at least 4 feet above ground??

…and politics
Against all his hopes, your Eyewitness was flabbergasted to see that some from the Opposition have been trying to make political hay from the Mahdia horror. This is sinking lower than the underbelly of a snake. Sure, there’s the need for codes. Sure, there’s need for enforcement of those codes. But is any Government responsible when an individual deliberately takes action to break all those codes??
Is there any area of national life where codes are observed willingly?? Folks are still electrocuted when making illegal connections to transmission lines, for goodness’ sake! Georgetown still floods after every heavy rainfall – cause citizens dump their garbage into drains and canals! Who’s to blame?? Sure, Government has a role in enacting codes and enforcing them. But are local and national governments to walk around with the equivalent of “pooper scoopers” – like they do in metropolitan areas to pick up their dogs’ #2 random droppings??
The bottom line, folks, is we ALL gotta get with the programme of observing codes!!

…of Wismar Massacre
When we talk about “Guyanese tragedies”, the most horrific – which WERE political – were the 1964 Wismar Massacre and the Son Chapman sinking that followed. They’ve remained as scars on the national psyche, and must be dressed and addressed.