In the Dark


The government is in the dark—as usual. After the Brama episode on October 28, in which seven criminals were killed, the police and government said, as required by protocol, that the “police” engaged and killed these men. Of course, the people had their own vibes; they knew that it was Brama’s “associates” who did the cleaning up. The killings were too clinical in nature, each marked with obvious precision that the locals simply could not have managed without some error. But the police took the credit to avoid a barrage of criticism from the opposition. They knew that the opposition would criticize anyway, so it was best to reduce the level of justifiable criticism. Let them speculate.


The people knew that it would not be long before the monster in Buxton (yes, Buxton), raise its head again. It did so even before it decided to take a 2-3 weeks rest when an Indian man (Motilall also known as “Jinga”), was snatched and later killed in retaliation for the slaying of the seven a few days earlier. Jinga’s family turned up with the ransom money, only to be mocked by the kidnappers. Revenge (that involved racial taunting) was one message being sent out; the other that this was far from over.


During the 2-3 weeks in which there was a marked hiatus from the heavy crime traffic we had seen pre-Oct 28, someone was doing their own laundry because three criminals, at least one in bulletproof vests, were found executed. Then, an armed robbery by armed gunmen occurred in Coldigen—nothing odd about this—except that when the police chased them, these gunmen found shelter in Buxton where a dozen armed men came to provide protection. In another incident, a gunplay in Buxton involving gunmen harbored in Buxton and other “gunmen” on a pickup, led to the shooting of a soldier.


Who were these men on the pick up? Who killed the three men including the notorious fisherman-turned-“inspector,” Mr. Premkumar Sukraj?  Was it a special group from within the ranks of the police, a group of regular citizens who now decide to gang up and fight back, or the people of Brama taking out these bad boys? Most people think it is the latter. By November 27, the government, that is, Dr. Roger Luncheon, announced that it was investigating the existence of this “phantom” group, which was exercising free will and passage among us. Or, was this mere protocol from the government again? One thing was sure, the police and the government were in the dark.


The police, already overworked and overwhelmed, were not giving up totally. October 28 gave them some much-needed inspiration. In early November, one wanted criminal was killed, although the cost was high; a civilian (Ms. Williams) was killed during the shootout. The police, rightfully, accepted the blame. Two weeks later, Mr. Romel Reman, another wanted man who was involved in the murder of policeman Leyland as he bought ice cream, was injured in a police raid. He escaped, while his accomplice was killed.


Still, the signs are showing that the hardcore criminals have taken up from where they left off on October 28. One can only speculate, but it would not be unreasonable to suggest that the so-called “sophisticated leaders” of the Black militant program have been busy, despite being furious over the recent exposure received, and the deaths of their loyal workers. Truth is, to paraphrase Mr. Hoyte in his speech in Buxton recently, if you kill one Rasta, another will take its place.


The people are bracing for Christmas; the business community is still deciding whether to stock up or not (some good are “perishable’). Many business people will take a chance now that they feel crime has abated a bit. But this is no guarantee; they know it and so does the consuming public. There are, at least, some 200 criminal-deportees walking around as the population relaxes into the holiday season. We already have attempted hijackings and failed kidnap attempts recently.  The question is, if the police have not done as much cleaning up as it claimed it has, and the government is still fumbling around in the dark, should people think this “madness” is over?


To think it is, is to be downright silly. Just as it would be silly to think that the crime crisis began on Mashramani Day and ended on October 28. True, that period brought crime to the forefront, pushing out all the other debates (e.g., marginalization and power sharing etc.), silencing even the traditional leadership of the PNC/R. This period resulted in the following; 9 policemen killed (17 injured), 3 security people killed (7 injured), 5 businessmen killed (75 injured), 689 armed robberies, 73 hijackings, and 4,826 “indictable” crimes being committed.


Here, we are not talking of the rapes and/or sexually attacks carried out on women or the constant onslaught of beatings. Nor the psychological breakdown of daily Guyanese itself like a quiet wedding, the migration of businessmen, the closing of businesses, the relocation of some families that fear for their lives; the number of death threats made; and finally but not lastly, the racial strain in race relations. These are areas, which cannot be measured by numbers.


The government could have reduced all of this considerably. Each time someone accused the government of being soft on crime since 2001, it talked about how much $US it got in new investment or loans. What is the point of having a loan when one cannot go to the bank to collect the money? Or, bring it home? Interestingly, the president is always making these statements up in Berbice, where the Berbicians continue to play the fool. They tend to forget that it was in Berbice, at Albion, that we had the storming of a police station last year because of the crime wave. Well, the government still has its Home Affairs Minister on salary. Neither has it agreed to conduct any enquiry whatsoever on extra-judicial killings by its police. Can government response to the people’s complains be worse than this? So, I think it is safe to say that we are still in the dark and that there are unknown figures lurking out there.


November 28, 2002