Tue | Oct 3, 2023

Principal wants spotlight on predators as family, school mourn slain 9-y-o

Published:Friday | February 3, 2023 | 1:15 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Nikita Noel.
Nikita Noel.
A table with tributes dedicated to nine-year-old Nikita Noel by her grade four classmates at Esher Primary in Lucea, Hanover.
A table with tributes dedicated to nine-year-old Nikita Noel by her grade four classmates at Esher Primary in Lucea, Hanover.


Nordia Edwards said when she felt a pain in her abdomen on Wednesday evening, she instinctively knew something terrible had happened to her nine-year-old daughter, Nikita Noel.

Hours later, her worst fears would be confirmed as Nikita’s body would be discovered, hidden in bushes a few chains from her home in Kew district in Hanover.

Nikita was reportedly raped then strangled by her attacker as she made her way home from school.

“I was in the police station when I started feeling the pain, and I said to the police lady, ‘I need to go home because I need to find my daughter’,” a grief-stricken Edwards recalled.

With a tear-stained face, Edwards on Thursday reminisced on the good times with her daughter as she tried to fathom the brutal manner in which she had been killed.

She recalled Nikita as a nice, loving, and jovial girl.

“My daughter don’t go people yard. When she go school, it is straight home after, from the driver drop her off, so I found it funny that it was getting late and I didn’t see her,” Edwards recalled, noting that Nikita would walk the same path to and from school daily, a routine the grade four student had developed since her days attending basic school.

The death of the promising student has sent shockwaves throughout the rural community.

On Thursday, as students of Esher Primary School in Lucea turned out in the wake of the tragedy, the grief was palpable.

As the students paid tribute to their late schoolmate, Principal Antoinette Wright made an appeal for a national sensitisation programme regarding predators who are hurting the country’s children.

“This sensitisation programme will make persons more aware that there are child predators on the loose in our country and for persons to take the necessary steps to reduce the number of incidents of this nature,” Wright said, stressing that the issue had national resonance, noting other recent cases of especially young girls being assaulted or abducted.

“Children must not be left unsupervised. They must be monitored and proper systems put in place to ensure their safety,” Wright added, even while recognising that Nikita’s mom had a very solid routine to ensure that her daughter reached home safely.

She said that the school takes safety and security very seriously.

“We discuss with our parents at the onset of the school term that students must be taken to and from school promptly. We are pleased that many of our parents have been working with us to achieve some of our objectives,” she said.

The headmistress said that the school can verify that Nikita was picked up by her taxi driver and dropped off near her gate on Wednesday.

Alarm bells first went off when it started to get late and her mother did not see her. The driver then confirmed that she had been dropped off and should have arrived home.

Hours after the nine-year-old’s death was confirmed, the police reported that a 42-year-old male suspect had been taken into custody.

On Thursday, Wright expressed concern, particularly for the boys who will become the men of tomorrow and are likely to hurt women and children, calling for intervention strategies to ensure that they grow up more caring and become positive contributors to nation-building.

“Systems will have to be put in place to ensure that all of us are safe. We need to strengthen some of our educational programmes to meet more effectively the needs of some of our males. Many times, our boys waste time because they are not interested in some of the programmes that we offer,” she noted.

Illiteracy, she added, is one of the main issues affecting school-age children, especially boys, because they are not channelled into areas of their interest.

“We need to motivate them to be able to become contributors to nation-building, rather than filling up our prisons and causing grief. The students have a lot of potential. It is just for the education system to grow and foster their interests,” Wright said.

The Lucea police are investigating the murder.