Had he kept his mouth shut, we would perhaps never have got to know that the one known as Franklin was a convicted drug trafficker caught during a big operation not by our Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit – perish the thought! – but by their counterpart in our sister island Reunion, where they seem to be seriously bent on cracking down on drug trafficking.
But Franklin, emboldened perhaps by the impunity he seems to be enjoying, wanted to “clear his name” – real name, which he happily gave – and decided to go public about the accusations that the activist Bruneau Laurette made against him during a political rally. So we were served a beautiful bedtime story: Franklin is not a drug trafficker at all. And he certainly has no police protection as claimed by Laurette. He is in fact an honest citizen who has never had any brushes with the law, except perhaps for minor incidents, but certainly never for drug dealing offences. Sitting in his fast food outlet, he gave selected journalists a summary of his life: he was born in a very poor but very hard working family. He doesn’t know how to read but he managed, by sheer dint of hard honest work and circumstances, to become a very rich guy. So rich in fact that he now makes donations by the truck full to those who have not discovered this magic formula.
We found out how inspiring his story is when our colleagues started searching for the miraculous recipe of how to make money by the bucketful, lead the high life, drive luxury cars and live happily ever after. Which they found in the Reunion press. A very simple recipe indeed: all you have to do is be involved in a drug mafia operating between Mauritius and Reunion and sit and reap the benefits.
In Mauritius, where we beat our chests at every opportunity about how serious Government is about Kas lerin mafia ladrog, we didn’t see anything. Thank God for our sister island’s narcotics police, who found out about the Toto Connection, where 11 people were involved in a massive drug operation, at least two of whom are Mauritian: Jean Hubert Célerine, known as Franklin, whose name already appears next to our notorious skipper Mike Brasse, and another, who must be smart enough to remain discreet, Nono. Both of our compatriots were sentenced to seven years in prison!
But that was in Reunion. Over here, we don’t know who Nono is and we perhaps will never know for as long as he is smart enough to continue lying low, but Franklin is a free man who even has a reputation to protect. Since 2018, five long years have passed since his conviction and Franklin has nothing to worry about. In fact, he gives press conferences, travels to Madagascar, most probably to buy black pepper and foie gras, and drags his lawyer – yes he has one – to the police station to make a statement against those who are accusing him of being a drug trafficker benefitting from police protection. In the meantime, the accuser, Bruneau Laurette, has been rotting in prison since last December, without a shred of evidence adduced against him so far!
One country, two yardsticks. And one hell of a story!