By: Yankuba Jallow
Kasamanding Keita told the TRRC that she was arrested and detained at the Janjangbureh Prisons for 40 days under the instruction of Chief Yaya Jarjusey of Jarra East District.
The 54 –year old said this on Monday, 24th June 2019 while giving testimony before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on account of her arrests and detentions. She gave a detailed recount of her unlawful arrests and detentions at the Masakonko Police Station, Janjangbureh Prison and Karantaba Police Station.
Jarjusey, a one-time supporter of the July 22nd movement is still the Chief of Jarra East. She said because of her arrest and detentions, her husband divorced her. Also, she said the arrests and detentions had a serious impact on her adopted child as she has no child. She added that her adopted child was admitted at a hospital while she was under detention. Further, she said the arrests and detentions impacted on her agricultural activities because her rice seedlings were burnt despite, she was under detention.
The witness said she was the UDP mobiliser in that area and during the voter registration process for 2001 presidential elections, she was attached to a polling station in Soma community as a UDP agent. She alleged that non-Gambians were registered and given voters’ cards. As a representative of the UDP, she said she reported the matter to the IEC and the matter was taken to the Magistrates’ Court in the area. She said when the case was called to go Court, she was sick and couldn’t go. Therefore, as a result, she said the matter ended there without anything been done about that matter.
She adduced that before he case, her landlord was instructed by Chief Yaya Jarjusey that she should vacate. She said after vacating the premises, Baba Jobe, the then National Assembly Member for that Constituency came and asked the landlord to allow her back to the compound.
“The landlord told Baba Jobe that it was the Chief who instructed him to send me out of the compound. Baba Jobe then picked the phone and called Chief Yaya Jarjusey asking him to bring a tractor to bring all my belongings from my new settlement. Baba Jobe fueled the tractor and the following morning, my properties were brought back to the house I was occupying,” she said.
She said after some time, the non-Gambians she summoned before the court also summoned her.
“We were brought before the (Magistrates) court and we told them our lawyers were not around. After some time, the police came for us in the court and took us to the Mansakonko Police Station. We were 11 persons and I was the only female among them,” she said.
She said they were not charged or told the reason for their arrest.
“The following morning, the (ten) men were taken to the Janjangbureh Prisons while I was left at the Police Station. After two days, Chief Jarjusey called the Station Officer (SO) of the Police Station and asked him to transfer me to the Janjangbureh Prisons. I heard the SO saying ‘yes sir chief’ while he was talking on the phone,” the witness adduced.
She said the following morning; she was transported to the Prison and detained at the Remand Wing for a month and ten days. While at the Prison, the witness said one Prison officer used to smuggle food for her because the food that they were served was terrible. She said her husband was allowed visitation whereas all others were denied access. She indicated that all through her detention, she had never been produced before a court of law. She decried her sustaining high blood pressure from her detention at Janjangbureh Prisons because of the worsening conditions.
She indicated that her party, the UDP paid two thousand dalasis for her release.
“Do you know why this money was paid by your party?” Counsel Mariama Singhateh asked.
“No, I don’t,” the witness replied.
She said after her release from the Janjangbureh Prisons, she was arrested again and detained at a Police Station on the Jarra Karantaba highway for thirteen (13) days. She adduced that while under detention, she was offered thirty thousand dalasis (D30,000) by Baba Jobe to forsake the UDP and join the APRC.
“I rejected the money and told the two ladies that brought the money to me that I cannot leave the UDP for the APRC,” the witness said.
She said at the Karantaba Police Station, she was not told the reasons for her arrest and detention. She described the cell of the Police Station as very small with no bed. She said she was released and asked to be reporting every day for about a month.
Also, she said her petty business was affected because some boys living with Baba Jobe used to chase her at night and harass her.
She said after these and many confrontations that brought hardship to her life, she left Soma and came to stay in Tallinding.
“Those you said are strangers; do you know whether they had a valid national identity card?” Commissioner Anna Jones asked the witness.
“I did not see them with a valid ID card,” the witness replied.