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Woman surprised at Vynnette Frederick’s claims

Woman surprised at Vynnette Frederick’s claims

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A young mother of three says she fears for her life after her name was mentioned as part of the evidence in what is threatening to become a legal battle between the two main political parties here.{{more}}

Afi Jack, 29, said she is frustrated, fearful and stressed, all because of “lies” which are being told on her.

The married mother of three girls told SEARCHLIGHT that the first inkling that something was wrong came on Friday, November 19, when her mother, Veronica “Maria” Hall, received a call from Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the New Democratic Party (NDP) Vynnette Frederick.

Hall, who accompanied Jack to SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, November 29, said she and Frederick are acquainted as she had worked with Frederick in the past. She said Frederick told her: “You know you can get locked up for making Afi remove from her constituency to vote in your constituency?”

“I told her ‘I don’t know what you are speaking about. If you want to speak with Afi, here is Afi’,” Hall said she said, adding that she handed the phone to her daughter.

Jack said when she took the phone, she heard Frederick saying: “If you don’t tell Afi anything, you don’t know Afi could get locked up. I will lock her up!”

On Thursday, November 25, Frederick, who will be contesting the West St. George seat in the December 13 General Elections on an NDP ticket, accused Luke Browne, the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) candidate for East Kingstown, of being involved in “a conspiracy to subvert justice and rig the general election in East Kingstown.”

She accused Browne, members of his family and close associates of illegally transporting registered voters living in other constituencies into the constituency of East Kingstown in an attempt to rig the vote in that constituency.

Her allegations were supported by the Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, who, in a press conference held on the afternoon of November 25, said: “Today we know for a fact and we have evidence of cheating by the Gonsalves administration.”

Browne is in a three-way fight for that seat with the incumbent Eustace of the NDP and Sabrina Ells of the Green Party. Eustace has won that seat on three previous occasions.

As part of the “evidence” given by Frederick to support her allegations against Browne, a person described as: “Afia Jack, also known as Afia Hall or Afia Joseph, a married woman with three children living in Belair in West St George” is mentioned as having been transported by Luke Browne at 4:30 p.m. on the 15th November 2010 driving motor vehicle PR591, “for that woman who is not resident in East Kingstown to transfer into that constituency.”

Jack, whose maiden name is Hall, said that what is being alleged by Frederick is “a lie”.

She said on Thursday, November 11, after picking up her children from pre-school in Frenches, she walked to the C.W. Prescod primary school in Richmond Hill to have her registration changed from Central Kingstown to East Kingstown.

Jack said when she got there, she was the first to arrive, even before the camera man.

“What did I do? I didn’t do anything. I didn’t go anywhere with Mr. Browne. I went to register to vote,” Jack said.

She is adamant that Luke Browne had nothing to do with her requesting the transfer and it was she who made the decision to have the transfer done, because she considers Walvaroo, in the East Kingstown constituency, her home.

She added that her transfer was done on November 11, before the special registration period, and not November 15, as is alleged.

Jack said while she and her husband are renting a house at Belair, she does not consider that her permanent residence.

“I am not from Belair. We are just renting. Most of the time, I am at my mom. So it was suitable for me to register in the Sion Hill area.

“East Kingstown is where I grew up. I spent my childhood between Rockies and Walvaroo,” she said.

Jack, who is eight months pregnant, said all her business is done from the Walvaroo home of her mother.

“I attend the Sion Hill clinic. All my children’s health cards are at the Sion Hill clinic. They go to school in Frenches,” she explained.

“Everything for me is Sion Hill,” she said, adding that her mother, brother and sister are all registered in East Kingstown.

She said she was, therefore, “very surprised” when her mother received the call from Frederick on November 19, and even more disturbed when she learned that her name had been called on a radio station as having been involved in illegal registration.

Jack said she and her family have been bombarded by calls from persons who heard the allegation.

“It hurts me. I was in the supermarket on Saturday and an NDP supporter pointed me out as said: ‘That is the lady who they talking about on the radio.’ I had to pull her up and say I not into this thing you all are talking about.”

Jack said since the incident, her pressure has risen and her feet have become swollen. She said the nurse at the clinic told her on Monday, November 29, that if her pressure does not go down, by today, Friday, December 3, she will have to be put on bed rest.

“This has really taken a toll on me. It is very frustrating. People are meeting me. I don’t know if people will come with their ignorance and try to lick me down. She done explain who I am, with my three kids. This is a lie, this is a total lie.”

However, when SEARCHLIGHT contacted Frederick on Wednesday, she stood by her statement, and said the NDP would not come to the public with the information if they were “guessing”.

“She was seen being brought by Luke (Browne) in a Noah… We have sworn statements,” Frederick said.

“I know her personally. She absolutely lives in Belair. She is the person with a more established dwelling place to which her family goes. As a matter of fact, when her mother was injured, and broke both of her legs, her mother moved to Belair to live with them. So this idea that she spends most of her time in East Kingstown is absolute rubbish,” she added.

Frederick said that her party has eyewitnesses to substantiate the information that was given to the press, and added that the evidence is “overwhelming”, especially in Jack’s case.

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke with Browne on Wednesday, he denied having transported Jack at any day or time to register. He also denied that anyone else on his team did so.

SEARCHIGHT contacted the Electoral Office on Wednesday and we were told that the registering officer in East Kingstown was present at the C.W. Prescod School on November 11, but on November 15, the officer was at the Technical College in Arnos Vale. The Electoral Office also confirmed that the date on which Jack did her change of registration was November 11.

Frederick, in her statement of November 25, said although she only detailed three instances of alleged illegal registration, there are 20 other such cases.

She said legal action is being pursued against Browne, members of his family, close associates of his and offending private citizens. She advised him to retain “independent legal counsel.”

When Browne spoke with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday, he said the two other persons referred to in Frederick’s statement as having illegally registered or attempted to register have been in contact with lawyers and will also make their own statements.

The ULP, in a press release issued on November 27, said that Frederick’s allegations have all been flatly denied by Browne and “could land her in jail and cause her to be barred from participating in the General Elections.”

The statement described Frederick’s allegations “false” and said they were made “without providing a shred of evidence”.

“Accordingly,” the release quoted Browne as stating: “I intend to write the Director of Public Prosecutions to have Frederick prosecuted because the statements and allegations made against me are patently false.”

On Wednesday, Frederick told SEARCHLIGHT that because she is able to substantiate everything she has claimed, she is very interested in “whatever it is they are going to use to charge me. I look forward to it.”

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