Family of women killed in the past year calls for justice and closure

Family of women killed in the past year calls for justice and closure
Billboard at the Soldier Road entrance of the Nassau Village community

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The relatives of several Nassau Village women who were murdered over the past year are still holding out for closure.

Yesterday, the Zonta Club of Nassau launched its “16 Days of Activism” initiative in the fight against violence against women and girls, with Nassau Village set as the epicenter of the campaign.

Part of the initiative included the mounting of a large billboard at the front of the constituency’s Soldier Road entrance, with the faces of women who were killed.

This included Gloria Rolle, who was killed on September 17, 2019; Kenrika Martin, who was killed on November 24, 2019; Cleo Lockhart, who was killed on December 14, 2019; and Alicia Sawyer and her 8-year-old daughter Ednique Wallace, who were both killed on September 28, 2020.

Lockhart, a 40-year-old mother of six, was found shot dead through a track road between Lewis Street and Hope Gardens.

Her mother, Mary-Jane Major, recalled getting the news on a rainy night.

“Everything was so painful. Nobody has been charged with the murder. That’s the painful part,” Major said.

She noted that her “heart is still heavy and saddened” because there hasn’t been any closure.

“It really has placed a burden on the family because we really need closure with this crime,” she added.

“We want to know why, who, and it really has to be a closure for us. Right now my heart is heavy. Seeing her picture up there, it isn’t easy.”

Lockhart’s sister, Daphne Major, said even a year after the tragedy, “it still feels so surreal”.

“I’m still angry. I’m still sad. I’m still hurt. She was a bubbly, awesome person. She was very loving — loved her kids to death. I’m holding on. We’re holding on.”

Major said the loss of her sister has been hardest on her husband and the six children she left behind.

“Knowing that [their] mom is not there, she’s not coming back no more, you could see they holding on, but deep down inside, all of us are different. We show pain differently.”

The pair insisted that something must be done about the crime in the community.

Martin, 17, was found dead behind the well-known Stokes Cabana property on Yamacraw Beach.

A man has been charged in connection with the incident.

The young woman’s mother, Mazie Lightbourne, said the family has not been the same since she died.

“The family hasn’t been coping very easy because she was our joy box, she was the love of our life, she was our heart, she was everything,” Lightbourne said.

“Since she has gone, it feels like they have stripped us of our whole life and we have not been the same since she left.”

While the upcoming anniversary of Martin’s death and funeral will be difficult, Lightbourne said she is grateful for people like Patricia Minnis, wife of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, and Kandi Gibson, founder of Families of All Murder Victims (FOAM), who continue to check on the family to date.

She added that one silver lining has been the demolition of the Stokes Cabana property earlier this year.

“I am very grateful and joyful knowing the building has been demolished… I want everyone in Yamacraw to know that since the bloodshed of my daughter, a blood, a next victim and a next murder should never happen anymore on that beach in life.”

The “16 Days of Activism” initiative was done in collaboration with the Nassau Village Community Center, the Department of Gender and Family Affairs (DGFA), the Bahamas Crisis Center, FOAM and other NGOs.

Fourty orange bows will be placed throughout Nassau Village as a symbol of “hope” to eradicate violence against women and children in the community.

Nassau Village MP Halson Moultrie said they are hoping to develop a template that could be duplicated throughout other communities on New Providence that may be considered a hotspot for crime, particularly against women.