Armed pirates attacked and robbed the captains and crew members of two fishing boats just off the shore at Whim, Corentyne on Wednesday night and later set one of the boats valued over $1.5M on fire.
One man has since been taken into custody and is assisting with investigations. The boat, which was burnt along with the engine as well as a quantity of fish, belonged to Indar Persaud, chairman of the No. 66 Fish Port Complex and his uncle, Balwant ‘Ano’ Hemraj.
The pirates first attacked the boat around 11:30 pm that belonged to Doodnauth ‘Babo’ Narine, 65, of Kilcoy, Corentyne and which was captained by his son, Harnauth Doodnauth, 40.
Doodnauth said he and the crew were about to set their seine when another boat with the two pirates who were armed with a “long gun” and a cutlass fired a shot in the air.
He said the men who came with a smaller boat fitted with a 40-horsepower (HP) Yamaha engine ordered him to remove his 15-HP engine and install their engine onto his boat.
They then stripped him and the workers down to their underwear and robbed them of their cellular phones and other items.
The men then questioned who the owner of the boat was and proceed to gun butt Doodnauth to his head and also “broadsided” him with the cutlass, causing him to fall overboard. The wound to his head was also bleeding.
He said he held onto the side of the boat for about three minutes until the workers pulled him up after the pirates inquired whether he had drowned.
They then ordered them to get into the smaller boat as they escaped in Doodnauth’s boat but not before tying the smaller boat onto it and dragging them about one and a half miles out to sea.
The men were left to drift until they thought of making an improvised paddle with a piece of wood they pulled out from the side of the boat.
They finally managed to reach the shores at Port Mourant and according to him, “When we start fuh feel mud we left the boat and hustle to go down to shore in case the men catch we. We tried and we make it out safe with the help of God. We thought they woulda kill we and throw we overboard…”
Still dressed in their underwear the men walked all the way to the Williamsburg Police Outpost to make to the report. He laughingly said that when they passed the Port Mourant market the vendors were staring at them as though they were “three mad men.”
While making the report at the station, someone called to say that a boat was on fire at the Rose Hall foreshore. He said along with three officers they hurried to the spot but the boat had already been burnt.
They followed the footprints that led to the bushes and uncovered the 40-HP engine – with a name written on it – that the pirates were using. Later in the day, he said after an intense search, his father’s engine was found buried in the mud.
Doodauth and his crew had already taken their catch home and had returned to sea around 6 pm.
Meanwhile Persaud of Rampoor, Corriverton, told Stabroek News that the men beat his captain and crew and also ordered them to strip down to their underwear.
They then chopped a seine belonging to him worth $1M and threw his crew into Doodnauth’s boat and escaped in his which they later burnt.
He said after the captain and crew came out on the road at Rose Hall they telephoned his uncle who called him around 4 am to tell him.
With no engine to get them to shore, the men decided to use a tarpaulin that was in the boat to create a sail. Hemraj subsequently drove to the area while Pravinchandra Deodat, chairman of the Berbice Anti-Piracy Committee and a team ventured out to sea by boat as they launched a search.
Persaud said pirates had hijacked his boats in the past but that they have never burnt them. He felt that the pirates were “taking out spite on people at this complex…”
He said he sent out his boat on Saturday to work after purchasing $180,000 worth in supplies including gasoline, groceries and ice. The men were expected to return on Saturday morning.
Doodnauth’s relatives are calling on the government to take serious action against piracy because their work has to go on.
They suffered losses in the past but they have never been compensated but “as soon as somebody lose a `lil garden they give them assistance.”