Radhica Sookraj, Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Nov. 11. 2010
Panic broke out at the Moruga Composite School yesterday as 17 female students fell mysteriously ill and began rolling on the ground, hissing and blabbering in a strange tongue, after suffering bouts of nausea and headaches. Two of the students reportedly tried to throw themselves off a railing and had to be physically restrained, triggering fears of a possible demon attack. The drama started during the lunch hour in the Form One block and quickly spread to other areas. Form Five student Kern Mollineau, who attends the Lighthouse Tabernacle Church, said he got worried when the girls’ eyes began rolling up in their heads and they began beating up on the ground.
With the assistance of several other students and teachers, the pupils were taken to the multi-purpose hall where some of them fell into a semi-conscious state. Mollineau recalled: “One girl was blabbering as if in a strange language. I could not understand what she was saying. “It was sounding like ‘shebbaberbebeb shhhhee.’ The girls were unusually strong. We had to hold them down so that they will not hurt themselves. “The teachers were right there. I get a kick in my face when one of the girls started beating up on the floor. Many of them had bruises.” Mollineau claimed he actually communicated with the “devil which had possessed the girl. “I asked the Devil what he wanted with the girls and the voice said he wanted a life. He kept saying to send the girls in the toilet and to leave them alone,” Mollineau claimed.
Roman Catholic priests, as well as pastors from nearby churches, including Josephine Charles, Deborah Charles and Pastor Gordon, visited the school and began showering the children with holy water and prayers. Two more students, Kriston Mollineau and Kishon Bethel, said they too were called by teachers to assist the ill girls. Kriston said the girls complained of headaches and some of them wanted to go to the toilet. Six ambulances arrived at the school accompanied by police teams from the Moruga and St Mary’s Police Post. A party of fire officers from the Princes Town Fire Station, led by acting Assistant Divisional Fire Officer Ramdeo Boodoo visited the school and began conducting several tests on the surroundings to determine the cause of the problem.
Boodoo said there was nothing in the environment to trigger fainting spells, nausea and headaches. A teacher, who requested anonymity, said two weeks ago an Orisha woman came to the school and had a dispute with a member of staff. He said following the dispute, the woman threatened to deal with the school administration. Another teacher said the school was built on a burial site, but neighbours who live around the school denied that was so. A source at the school confirmed that all 17 pupils were taken to the Princes Town Health Facility where they were medically examined. The other students were sent home at 2 pm.
Responding yesterday, Minister in the Ministry of Education Clifton de Coteau said he was aware that pupils had to be taken for medical attention. De Coteau said Student Support Service officials were sent to the school and students were expected to receive counselling. A statement from the Ministry of Education said the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) made maxi taxis available to the school to assist the Office for Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) which provided additional ambulances.