ST GEORGE’S, Grenada — A Grenadian journalist is complaining to media colleagues about threats of lawsuit he says he has received from J Cliff Ganus, a student representative at St George’s University (SGU).
Mikey Hutchinson said the threats came in the wake of a weekend story on the death of an SGU student that he posted on the website of local radio station, WEE FM.
Hutchinson, a popular WEE FM broadcaster and an executive member of the Media Workers Association of Grenada, broke the news on Saturday, saying there are “unconfirmed reports that a medical student of the St George’s University was found hanging in her apartment.”
According to Hutchinson’s report, the name of the deceased “was given by another student as Nyawira Mwaura. Nyawira is said to be a Kenyan national”.
Hutchinson, webmaster of his station’s internet site, also said that “a fellow medical student” had described the woman’s death as “shocking”.
“The colleague, who spoke on the condition that her identity is not revealed, told weefmgrenada.com that Nyawira was a quiet person who seemed to enjoy her own company,” Hutchinson reported.
Police subsequently confirmed Hutchinson’s information, naming the deceased as 25-year-old Nyawira Nwaura of Kenya, and said she was found at her rental apartment in the south of the island.
Police said Nwaura was discovered “in a kneeling position inside her bedroom with a belt buckled around her neck and the other end tied to the bed post”.
They added that the medical student, who had failed to show up at the airport to meet a sister who was visiting her from Canada, died as a result of “asphyxia, constriction of the neck and hanging”.
However, Hutchinson’s reporting appears to have incurred the ire of Ganus.
In a comment on the WEE FM website, Ganus expressed disappointment in the “integrity and journalistic ethics of this station for reporting something so tragic without even confirming the reports. I would be ashamed to be a part of any organization who disregards the ethical considerations of journalism, as well as the compassion involved in such a sensitive subject”.
Hutchinson said Ganus also e-mailed and telephoned him.
Ganus, he said, claimed that he “represented the student body at SGU in the capacity as president”.
“Mr Ganus, in no uncertain terms, demanded that I remove the article online, failing which I will face legal action. I asked him on what grounds is he making his demands and he stated that the information contained in the article is false and also insensitive. Mr Ganus further requested that I reveal my source,” Hutchinson said in his complaint letter addressed to “media colleagues”.
Hutchinson revealed that before publishing his story, he had notified Nwaura’s family and had withheld release of the article for more than 12 hours.
He charged that Ganus’ response to the article is “nothing short of an attack on press freedom and the free flow of ‘information without interference’, a provision set out in Section 10 Subsection 1 of the Constitution of Grenada”.
Ganus, in one e-mail note to Hutchinson, said “it seems like a very extravagant step to file a lawsuit” over the article that he demanded removed from the WEE FM website.
For the moment, Ganus told Hutchinson, “I will be writing to all the local sponsors I see on the page, requesting that they take note of the unprofessional – and frankly inappropriate – methods of self-promotion being taken by the station. I will be encouraging all the other students at SGU to do the same”.
Grenada police say they are continuing their investigation into the death of Nwaura, who was on her final year in medical school.