Naggo Head taximen, residents mourn tragic death of elderly cabbie ‘Butty’

LAST Saturday before the islandwide lockdown took effect, senior citizen Gwendolyn Gillespie Brown ran out of cooking gas at her home in Portmore, St Catherine, and she could only depend on one individual to help put her pots back on the fire. That individual was 70-year-old veteran taxi driver Minolal Edwards, who plied the route from Naggo Head to Hellshire in Portmore.

Edwards was murdered in Sandhill Vista in Hellshire on Monday by men posing as passengers. His body was thrown from the motor vehicle he was driving and onto the roadway.

Gillespie Brown saw Edwards for the last time on Saturday, when he bought her a bag of coal and dropped it off at her home. She was therefore beyond despair when she learned that he had been killed and that she wouldn’t be able to repay him for the deed.

“Saturday mi gas done and mi call him and tell him. Mi tell him fi buy some coal fi mi and when him come, mi give him back the money. Mi hear the car horn a blow and mi look down the stairs and him seh ‘Gwen, see di coal deh! When you see mi you pay mi’. Mi can’t believe mi brethren gone. If you a rob di man, just dash him out, nuh? Wah mek you affi kill him?”

According to a police report, Edwards succumbed yesterday to injuries he received during Monday’s incident. The report stated that around 1:45 pm Monday, Edwards was attacked by men posing as passengers, who requested a diversion from the route, to Sandhill Vista. The men escaped in the blue 2013 Toyota Probox that was being used as a taxi by Edwards. According to the police, the vehicle was later recovered in Kingston.

Avagay Bernard, a distraught and emotionally broken friend of Edwards, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that though many hours have passed since his killing, a strong feeling of disbelief was still fresh. Bernard, a bar tender at an establishment within the bus park, said Edwards, who was also called “Butty”, ate lunch inside her bar each day and hung out there in between trips to Hellshire. She fainted outside the bar upon hearing news of Butty’s demise.

“Saturday before the curfew, him siddung right yah in here and mi squeeze him tight and seh tek care a yourself till Monday. All now mi can’t believe seh Butty dead. Every 12 o’ clock, a right in yah suh him siddung and eat him lunch.

“Mi nuh sleep Monday night. Butty was a cricket lover. On his birthday, December 25, the whole day him siddung wid mi. Mi seh ‘Butty, mi ago start a round for him and mi pudung three light beer pon di counter and everybody come through the door buy him sumn fi drink because a how me and him is.

“Him a mi friend like dat. When mi hear dem seh Butty dead, mi foot dem wobble outside and mi just drop a grung. Mi nuh sleep last night and mi know mi pressure gone up because mi nuh feel good inna mi body. All now mi can’t believe it. My mother know Butty fi over 25 years running taxi go Hellshire. Butty was a nice, humble man.”

His colleagues in the taxi business ceased services for most of yesterday morning to pay respect to Edwards, a man who they said was one of two men who started plying the Naggo Head to Hellshire route.

One taxi man who gave his name as Charlton Chaplin described Edwards as a friend he found joy in provoking.

“Every day me and him argue because me provoke him. When him call a passenger and me tek weh dat passenger from him, him cuss and seh this and that, then drive out. When him come back, a me and him again. Wednesday me a trouble him and seh ‘how you ago manage when Sunday come when the place lock down? … When mi go Hellshire and come back, mi hear seh a dat happen to him. Whole night Monday night, mi nuh sleep. A mi general. A years mi know him. Me inna di taxi work 22 years now and me come here come see him. Butty was a good man.”

Another taxi man who knew Edwards very well, said he and the others had temporarily withdrawn their services out of respect for the elder.

“Mi deh yah fi nearly 40 years and Butty deh yah fi over 30 years. Him was a nice bredda. We have to show respect to the man. Later we ago work, but we have to show respect to the man.”

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