Dharamlall denies fresh rape allegation; police force goes silent

Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2024, 20:07 by Writer

Sarah Aneesa Hakh

A woman on Friday accused former government minister Nigel Dharamlall of raping her almost four years ago but he hours later denied the allegations, even as the Guyana Police Force (GPF) refused to comment on whether there was such a report and what was the status of the probe.

The woman, who identified herself as Sarah Aneesah Hakh, said she made a report to the Cove and John Police Station. “They just said they are going to seek legal advice,” when asked what she was told.

“From the outset, I wish to categorically and most vehemently deny each and every one of the allegations made by the said Ms. Hakh therein,” he, however, said in a statement posted on his Facebook profile.

Instead, he counter accused her of making unwelcomed advances to him. “Her demeanour towards me changed fundamentally after I rebuffed her advances and spurned her attempts to engage in an intimate relationship,” said Mr Dharamlall. The woman, however, on Friday said she told Mr Dharamlall when he attempted to kiss her and threw himself on her at State House, Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast that, “nothing can happen because I’m fully into women and this is not something I came here expecting to do and can’t offer anything.” She said she persistently pushed him away.

The woman, who at one time sobbed during the news briefing, gave graphic details of her alleged encounter with Mr Dharamlall. “I was shocked, stunned and immediately told him to put his clothes on,” she said. “I was disgusted by this man’s naked body and everything he was asking me to do,” the woman said.

He last year faced similar allegations by a young woman. The Director of Public Prosecutions had eventually decided that Mr Dharamlall should not be charged, but then he decided to resign from his ministerial post.

Neither Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken or Head of the Criminal Investigations Department Assistant Commissioner Wendell Blanhum responded to messages or took calls. A GPF spokeswoman said “I am not aware of that report” when she was contacted by Demerara Waves Online News. At 6:45 p.m., a police force spokesman said in the Joint Services WhatsApp group which includes high-ranking police officers that he “will have to check on this and get back to you.”

While police remained mum, Mr Dharamlall did not say whether he was questioned by investigators but said he has asked his lawyers to review the woman’s statements aimed at taking legal action against her and other persons associated with propagating these falsehoods, as may be necessary. Just re-elected to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Central Committee with 1,912 votes and a rank of number 6 in the 35-member Central Committee, he questioned Ms Hakh’s motive for coming forward now with the allegations. “It really begs the question as to what has reignited this quest by Ms. Hakh to sully my good name, particularly at this time. Her latest attempt bears testimony to this,” he said.

The woman said she had approached the Stabroek News newspaper as well as the political opposition but the issue for the opposition was “burden of proof.” Referring to the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic without naming anyone specifically, she said “I don’t have respect for these people. I don’t think they’re fit to lead in any capacity. They have no respect for themselves. They are doing the dirtiest of the dirt to people here; to women especially and to little boys and children. These people need to go to prison,” she said.

Ms Hakh told a news briefing via Zoom that on September 27, 2020 she was raped by then Local Government Minister at State House, Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast. She said she had been in contact with the named suspect for the position of Regional Executive Officer for Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and the then minister had invited her to the State House to discuss her interest in the post. At his request, she said she had taken food, toothbrush and soap for him.

The woman said she had a second physical encounter which was an “ambush very similar to the first time” in May, 2021 while she had been a contracted employee. Despite her earlier experience, she said she accompanied the minister to his bedroom of his Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown residence, but eventually she left his home.

Admitting that he knows Ms Hakh, Mr Dharamlall admitted to knowing the woman for several years and had always maintained “a most civil and cordial relationship with her, including socializing on many occasions.”

Mr Dharamlall deemed the allegations “malicious” and said after he rejected her advances, she “embarked on a campaign to malign and tarnish my reputation.” “This was manifested through several fake profiles on social media, surreptitious leaks of information to the traditional media and a whisper campaign to anyone willing to listen.”

The woman said she was suffering from mental trauma including attempting suicide, as a result of the alleged encounters.

She admitted that she was diagnosed as bipolar when she was 19 years old and eventually it progressed into something more.