Human Services Ministry suspends officer who allegedly slapped pensioner; Human Services Minister condemns incident

Last Updated on Tuesday, 2 February 2021, 9:47 by Denis Chabrol

PPP parliamentarian, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.

Minister of Human Services, Dr. Vindhya Persaud said an investigation has been launched into the alleged slapping of a pensioner by an official of that ministry who had gone at the city office to uplift her 2021 pension book.

Dr. Persaud said the officer has been sent on leave to pave the way for a “transparent and fair” investigation into the incident by a panel that would not include the minister. She said the entire process would be in keeping with the public service rules and strong disciplinary action would be taken. “That officer will be dealt with condignly once there is any such truth in it,” the Minister told Demerara Waves Online News/ News-Talk Radio Guyana.

Eyewitness Dr. Melissa Ifill and the officer have agreed to give statements concerning the incident at about 9:15 AM. The Minister heaped scorn on the alleged assault and apologised to the pensioner. “For me, it is something I feel very strongly about- elder abuse and that kind of thing. For e, I would like to apologise to the pensioner on behalf of the entire ministry. It wasn’t me doing anything but it shouldn’t have happened and no officer should be ill-treating pensioners,” she said.

Giving an account on Facebook, Dr. Ifill said she was at the Ministry of Human Services with her father to uplift his pension book. “As I was fretting, I saw a pensioner walk up the office and apparently went in – I suppose in frustration because I had noticed that she was there before us. I saw a heavy set staffer quarrelling with the pensioner telling her to leave and stand outside and then to my shock and horror, the staffer leaned back and slapped the pensioner,” Dr. Ifill said on her Facebook page.

The senior University of Guyana (UG) official was, however, uncertain whether the pensioner fell as a result of the assault. “I couldn’t see properly but it appeared as if she fell. Another staffer came and assisted the pensioner out of the building and tried to comfort her,” she said. The eyewitness also expressed concern that the police officer did not arrest “that beast in human form.”

The Human Services Minister condemned the incident based on the allegation. “I will take this very seriously. It’s unacceptable. It’s totally unacceptable and I will not tolerate that kind of behaviour if that is so,” she said.

While preferring that Dr. Ifill had informed authorities directly, Dr. Persaud said she and a senior official reached out to the complainant after seeing the Facebook post.