Reliving a nightmare - Jah Cure's victim tells her story
Behind these prison walls,
doing my paces, doing my time,
I am, spending my restless
nights, visioning faces "
- Jah Cure
OVER THE past two years, the songs of rising Rastafarian singer Siccaturie Alcock, better known as 'Jah Cure', have brought joy to countless dancehall fans the world over.
But for 25-year-old Suzanne Ferguson,hearing his songs on the radio and even the very mention of his name, evokes painful memories. To her, Jah Cure is nothing more than the villain in her flashbacks of the night she and her aunt were both held up at gunpoint, robbed and raped.
Suzanne says Jah Cure, the singer whose songs speak of true love and preach about the virtues of righteousness, brutally abducted, robbed and raped her and her aunt, seven years ago on a dirt road in Monetgo Bay, St. James.
For that crime, the singer was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He has so far served seven years at one of Kingston's maximum security penal institutions. Prison authorities say his earliest possible release date is July 28, 2007.
Prompted by repeated public statements the singer has made proclaiming his innocence, Suzanne has decided to break her silence and tell her side of the story. She says she has trouble fighting the memories of a gun pointed at her head and of the singer trying to kiss her with his putrid, ganja-smelling mouth as he overpowered and then violently raped her.
She is as bitter about the incident today as she was when it occurred.
The polite, well spoken young woman, took the day off from work to meet with The Sunday Gleaner news team at her home in an upscale neighbourhood near Ironshore, in Montego Bay.
Dressed casually in a white, sleeveless blouse and a pair of blue polkadot pants, Suzanne sat down at a small table on her verandah to tell the tale.
"IT WAS a Sunday night, November 8, 1998 when it happened. My two male cousins, my aunt and myself were walking down to the Flamingo Nightclub to play a game of pool. This was something that we did frequently," Suzanneexplained.
As they walked down the street, she observed a tinted, two-door Turbo Starlet motor car, passing them, going in the opposite direction. Within minutes, the group noticed the same car coming slowly back down the road.
"I don't know, but for some reason I took a mental note of the number of the licence plate," said Suzanne.
The group went to the club and after spending about two hours there, decided to head back home. But they did not get very far. On reaching Windsor Road, the car which they had noticed earlier, drove up and blocked their path. Two men were inside. The occupant of the passenger seat jumped out with a gun in his hand and immediately gun-butted one of Suzanne's male cousins. The gunman then ordered the other cousin to walk over to him. Both cousins were robbed and verbally abused.
'NO, DO, DON'T KILL THEM!'
"I then heard a voice from inside the car say 'Kill them!' and I shouted "No, do, don't kill them!" recalled an emotional Suzanne as she knitted her brows as if to block the memory.
Her cousins were told to run for their lives. They did. The gunmen then ordered Suzanne and her aunt into the back of the vehicle. The driver of the car put it in reverse and then headed down Sugar Mill Road. The females were questioned about their cousins, then asked to identifiy themselves.
Their jewellery was taken and the man with the gun sat on top of them, so that they were unable to see where they were being taken. The men then drove on to a bushy, dirt track in the Spring Farm area. It was there that the men viciously raped the women.
"Jah Cure raped me at gunpoint, while the other man raped my aunt outside on the dirt track, in a pile of gravel. While begging for my life in the car and with the gun pointed at my head, I began resisting and begging him," Suzanne recalled.
"I then said to him, if you are going to rape me please, me a beg you to use a condom. He stopped and searched the glove compartment of the vehicle, then said he couldn't find any. He pulled my underwear off and began to rape me.
"I continued to resist and begged him to stop and I remember him saying 'Hey gal, do wey me tell yuh fe do and you wi live'. That was how it happened," said a tearful Suzanne.
After the ordeal, the men took them to the Rose Hall main road, where they were ordered to get out of the vehicle. The men threw $100 on the ground and told them that it was for their bus fare. Suzanne said when the vehicle drove off, she looked up and saw that it was the same licence plate that she had memorised earlier.
"I was able to identifiy him (Jah Cure) because his voice was distinct. They kept talking in the vehicle. Anywhere I hear that voice, I will always remember it. During the incident he tried to kiss me and I could smell the ganja scent on his breath," said Suzanne.
Prior to the incident, she said she had never seen, met or spoken with Jah Cure. She noted that she did not even know who he was until after he was arrested.
"When I had to go over the whole ordeal in court, it was devastating. He (Jah Cure) tried talking to me, trying to say it was not him. He introduced a pregnant woman to me at the courthouse, saying that she was his expectant baby mother. He was trying to get me to become sympathetic toward him. But afterwards, his mother (who was at the court house) told me that the woman was neither pregnant for him, nor was she his girlfriend."
According to Suzanne, the trial was very difficult, but the psychological effect of the rape was worse.
"He tried to contact me while he was in prison, I don't know how he got my telephone number, or how they got my address. I had to go away for a while in order to get away from it all, and during that time, he was still sending messages to my house." She said a lot of effort was made by entertainers and other friends to get her to make statements which would get the offender out of prison.
It was eight months before Suzanne managed to build up enough courage to go out in public again. She said the stigma and embarrassment of being raped was too much for her.
She said that several top entertainers have since called and visited her home, offering her large sums of cash if she would help Jah Cure to get an early release from prison.
'I JUST WANT HIM TO ADMIT'
"We don't want any money. I just want him to admit to his wrong and apologise publicly. I cannot take their money and go to the supermarket and buy a pound of respect, dignity and self esteem. All that was taken from me. I have to be walking on the streets and looking behind me. My relatives are getting threats," she said.
According to Suzanne, the ordeal has remained with her every moment of each day. At nights she tosses and turns, and sleep is as elusive as her peace of mind. The pain and anguish of the incident has imprisoned her for life. The incident has had an adverse impact on her relatives and has also affected her relationships with men.
"I don't trust anyone. If they try to come close, I react very violently and if they try to get intimate, I have flashbacks and it is very difficult," Suzanne spoke freely.
"Everytime there is a lot of publicity about Jah Cure, I have even more flashbacks. Sometimes I am so afraid to leave my house. When I go out in the public and hear people say, 'Free Jah Cure', I have serious flashbacks and it becomes very difficult. It seems to me that entertainers are more valued than everybody else in Jamaica and as a woman, I feel seriously undervalued."
While she has not undergone formal counselling, says her current church congregation helps her in the very hard times through prayer and fellowship. Much of her support also comes from good friends and the residents of her community, especially the young people who are very protective of her.
Glenroy Sinclair, Staff Reporter