…seven in past four days
As Guyana prepares for a Commission of Inquiry into the country’s 2002 to 2008 crime wave, the nation appears to be edging towards a similar crisis.
A surge in brazen robberies in the New Year has resulted in at least 32 gun robberies in the past 35 days.
Reports provided by the Guyana Police Force indicate that in January, there were at least 25 robberies in which the perpetrators used firearms.
Within the first four days in February, there have been seven similar robberies in which guns were used. The latest, yesterday, ended in the death of money changer Shawn Nurse, who was shot dead in America Street by a hooded gunman who reportedly escaped with a large sum of cash.
The killing of Nurse is reminiscent of some of the callous attacks that gunmen committed in the peak of the 2002 to 2008 crime wave.
Some of other brazen attacks include the robbery of a civil engineer, who was apparently trailed from a commercial bank to a Robb Street restaurant, where he was shot at by a gunman after he refused to hand over his haversack with cash and other valuables.
Then there was the attack on seven secondary students, including at least three girls, in South Ruimveldt. The children, aged between 15 and 16, were buying refreshments in a shop, when two men on bicycles held them at gunpoint.
They were robbed of cell phones and small sums of cash. One child was relieved of $1,000; another of $1, 500.
On January 24, businesswoman Rong Yan Yao, 41, and her husband, Rong Jie King, were gun-butted and relieved of money, gold and silver jewellery, a quantity of fish glue, phones and other items. The robbers fled with the victims’ pick-up truck, BSS 5412. It was later found abandoned.
Last Saturday, a man police described as recently-bailed robbery accused, escaped with an accomplice after robbing a 47-year-old woman in Diamond Housing Scheme.
The robber and an accomplice had trailed their victim from a commercial bank to a shop in the community.
On January 30, two private-hire operators were robbed of their cars during separate occurrences on the West Demerara.
At around 21:20 hrs Harry Narine, 28 of Zeelugt New Scheme, East Bank Essequibo was approached at a taxi-base located at Zeelugt Public Road, by two men who hired him to take them to the Zeelugt New Scheme.
On arrival at the location in Toyota Premio PSS 9926 one of the men ordered the driver out of his car at gunpoint. The carjackers then fled with the vehicle.
At 22:30hrs that same night, Jailall Mohadeo, 30, was at a taxi base located at De Willem Public Road, in Toyota Premio PNN 1952, when two men requested to be taken to Cornelia Ida’s New Scheme. When he reached their requested destination, he, too, was robbed of his vehicle.
But the carjackers were forced to abandon the vehicle when they encountered police at a road block near the Den Amstel Police Station.
On Jan 27, a security guard stationed at the Education Ministry’s building that houses the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport in Berbice, was on Saturday tied up and robbed.
The 37-year-old man, Gansham Rai, was in the guard hut, at the Vrymen’s Erven, New Amsterdam location, when a man pointed a gun at him. In an effort to subdue the guard, the bandits took Rai’s shirt and tied his hands behind his back.
The bandits also relieved him of a phone, $1200, a knife and a flashlight.
And even the blind are not safe.
On January 30, four masked bandits invaded the Guyana Society for the Blind and held six visually impaired persons, along with the only sighted individual at gunpoint before stealing a laptop computer belonging to the non-governmental organization.
The bandits gun-butted a volunteer, Selwyn Jacobs, and placed their blind victims to lie on the floor as they demanded cash and other valuables.
After ransacking several offices and rooms at the Institute, they escaped with one laptop.
And a few days ago, three Brazilians robbed the wife of a Lethem businessman after tying her up at gunpoint.
The robbery occurred at around 15.00 hrs at Michael’s Jewellery and Cell Phone Shop at Barrack Retreat and Kanuku Drive, Lethem.
The 24-year-old victim, Maxine Buckley was in the store when the three men, who were speaking Portuguese, entered. After holding the woman at gunpoint and tying her up, the men packed several watches, cell phones and pieces of jewellery into a haversack. They then took the keys to Grant’s husband’s car, with the intention of escaping in the vehicle.
They were caught after crashing the vehicle.
From what police have said, some of the perpetrators were so bold that they even entered police stations to reclaim cars that they had stolen.
On Saturday, police detained a suspected carjacker known as ‘Bourda Rat’, who had repeatedly tried to claim ownership of a stolen car that the cops had impounded last year.
Police had previously arrested the same man and two others on November 27, 2017, in connection with a robbery in Georgetown.
Police had impounded the car in which the suspects were travelling, but were unaware that it was a stolen vehicle.
The suspects were charged and subsequently freed after their victims refused to give evidence against them.
Meanwhile, even though he was unable to prove ownership, police said that the suspect known as ‘Bourda Rat’ made several attempts to uplift the car, which was impounded at the Brickdam Police Station.
On Saturday, the real owner turned up. Police were able to identify the vehicle as one that was stolen on June 6, 2017 from a Roxanne Burnham resident.
‘Bourda Rat’ was arrested hours later. Police are preparing to put him on an identification parade.
Later the same day, a team of detectives seized another car that is suspected to have been stolen, while detaining a taxi driver who is a suspect in several criminal matters.
Police said that the registration appears non-existent; more so, the silver Toyota Premio engine number, A392329 is not stated on the registration.”
“The 27-year-old suspect, who is a taxi driver wanted for questioning in relation to several serious crimes, is co-operating with investigators.”
Gun robberies aside, there were also several knife point attacks. One such robbery left a couple badly injured.
On January 23, masked bandits armed with knives and cutlasses left a Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara grocer and his wife with multiple stab wounds after invading the couple’s shop.
Hemwattie Mohabir, 45, was stabbed in her hands, left shoulder, left leg and hip, while her husband, who was struck in the head, was stabbed in the abdomen.
Police said that the victims were preparing to close their shop when four masked men, armed with knives and cutlasses, barged in, and demanded cash and other valuables. Not satisfied with what they got, the suspects inflicted several stab and chop wounds on the victims before fleeing the scene with a small sum of cash and other items.
Hemwattie Mohabir said she was just about to close their liquor and grocery shop, when two men, who had knives, and with their faces hidden by stockings, barged in.
She fought with the men “and they start to ‘juck’ me,” the woman said.
The robbers also attacked Mr. Mohabir, who was outside of the shop, clubbing him on the head and stabbing him in the region of his navel.
Police arrested a suspect but later released him.
On January 18, a soldier was walking along High and Durban streets with a colleague, when three knife wielding men on bikes attacked and robbed them. One suspect was held.
In an interview last year with Kaieteur News, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan conceded that the presence of repeat offenders for serious crimes on the streets is presenting further challenges to the police.
“It is also making fear in the land a little more, because people are saying that ‘the fellow get bail, he could come and attack me next morning’,” Ramjattan had said, while suggesting that some of these repeat offenders should not be granted bail.
In the wake of recent gun-related crimes, Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira last month called for the convening of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Security Sector, which is chaired by Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
The bipartisan committee which includes members from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the governing coalition, last met in July 2017.
Members of the coalition on the Committee are Attorney General, Basil Williams, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder; Valerie Garrido-Lowe, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and Hemraj Rajkumar, while the Opposition is represented by former Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, Joseph Hamilton, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and Harry Gill.
“We are calling for the meeting of the Committee because it needs to deal with some of the concerns of the Guyanese people, including the concerns of the prisons and public safety,” Teixeira told Kaieteur News yesterday.
The Opposition Chief Whip added, “We are in January, and the Minister has not convened a meeting. If he convenes the meeting, it allows for discussions with members of the Parliamentary level to discuss concerns of public safety and not just the prison, but crime and security as well.”
The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Security Sector examines the policies and administration of the entities in the security sector, namely the Disciplined Forces of Guyana. Additionally, the Committee has the power to co-opt experts or enlist the aid of other persons of appropriate expertise, whether or not such experts or persons are members of the National Assembly.
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