Nov 20, 2016 News
Many of you might have walked past money changers, sitting or standing along Water, America or
Longden Streets, Georgetown. They are mostly men flaunting large sums of local and foreign currency, and soliciting passersby to buy or sell money.
However, this year has been horrendous for persons in this trade since they have come under attack by gun-toting bandits while on the job. A number of money changers have been shot and injured during brazen robberies, with their perpetrators escaping with cash.
In one instance, a gunman escaped empty handed after a robbery attempt on a money changer at a Popeye¡¯s Outlet, two weeks ago.
Vishwahnauth Nouwbat, also known as ‘Vishal’, 36, of ‘C’ Field Sophia was shot to the left abdomen after a gunman stormed the fast food restaurant at Water Street and demanded him to hand over a bag with money. When Nouwbat refused to comply, the gunman shot him.
Nouwbat was at the time having a meal with his girlfriend. But despite the attacks, these money couriers continue this risky business. When Kaieteur News visited the area yesterday, a group of men, numbering about 15, were gathered in front of Chica D Outlet and Queensway.
They were hard at work. Most of them expressed that they are fearful for their lives in light of recent robberies.
One of them who spoke under condition of anonymity stated that although his life is under threat daily, it is his only source of income. He comes out from early as 09:00hrs, Monday to Saturday. And according to him, he has witnessed armed robbers snatch and escape with persons¡¯ chains, handbags and other valuables.
He disclosed that there is a specific gang of young men that prey on money changers and individuals traversing the busy Stabroek Market area.
He said that the thieves are known to City Constabulary ranks, who would patrol the area daily. But the money changer alleged that the constabulary ranks are known for taking bribes from these criminals to forgo charges.
Efforts made to contact the Chief Constable on these allegations proved futile.
“The city constables are seeing them (robbers) commit crimes and are leaving them. When the thieves see nobody not doing them anything they will continue. They (robbers) coming and picking people pocket. They coming with gun and mace in their waist to spray people and the city constables know them.”
It unbelievable that a small country like this has so much crime, he added.
He opined that the penalty for robbery under-arms, outlined in the law should be reviewed because it cannot suffice. This was in response to a question about the conviction of Troy Abrams, for the said offence.
Earlier this year, Abrams was jailed for five years for robbing two money changers on Water Street, at gunpoint.
On November 3, 2015 money changers were sent scattering after they were attacked by gunmen on Honda CG motorcycles. It was reported that about ten gunmen discharged several rounds before forcing the money changers to hand over cash and jewellery.
Another money changer said that while the job is risky, his earnings are enough to maintain his family. He disclosed that he has been in this profession for close to two decades. He opined that there is no solution to stop crime.
He however stated that recent moves by Government to deploy the Joint Services to target areas that are hotspot for criminal activities could see a reduction in criminal activities.
“Them bandits just bareface,” a Stabroek Bazaar vendor stressed. “They got no regards for people lives. They don’t mean to go and make an honest living. You see when police shoot and kill them, then you hearing that they was church boy and this and that.”
Apart from Nouwbat, for this year, there have been reports of three other money changers being robbed by gunmen.
It was just two months ago that money-changer, Mahendra Deonarine, was shot in the abdomen just as he had disembarked from a boat at the Georgetown Ferry Stelling. The robber relieved Deonarine of a haversack which contained an undisclosed sum of local and foreign currency, before fleeing on a motorcycle.
In May, bandits during a brazen daylight robbery, held two popular Rose Hall, Corentyne money changers at gunpoint and demanded cash before fleeing.
The men, Pararam Sukraj and Anil Sukraj, after complying with the demands were placed to lie on the road while the bandits escaped on foot.
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