Nine men and four women were today charged by the police with possession of explosives and causing public terror.
The police said they appeared before acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court where they were each placed on $25,000 bail on each charge. They are to return to court on January 07, 2011.
The charges result from the police response to reports received that at about 5 am yesterday persons who were attending a private party at Buddy’s Night Club, Sheriff Street, Georgetown, were setting off explosive devices in the compound which caused fear and panic among neighbouring residents.
Among those charged are Ryan Gobin, Michael Maadoo, Andrae Banwarie, Azah Khan, Sumindranaught Maniram, Suresh Singh, Nadira Dukharan, Melissa Christian, Rose De France, Amanda Mohabir and Mandy Deonarine.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them by the acting Chief Magistrate.
“This thing was like war not no fireworks,” was how 72-year-old Aunty Cece described the pyrotechnic display in front of the Buddy’s Night Club and Restaurant on Sheriff Street yesterday morning in honour of businessman, Paul Daby’s fiftieth birthday celebration.
“In all my life I never see something like this, they does make noise but this was the limit,” the very animated grandmother told Stabroek News yesterday morning, hours after the fireworks display. The lighting of fireworks in this manner is illegal.
Prior to the fireworks, Stabroek News was told that around midnight, Daby, who reportedly rented the entire nightspot for the evening, arrived to the sounds of Tassa Drums and after some partying on the tarmac, the revellers with the guest of honour then entered the nightclub.
Many residents in the Campbellville area yesterday were angry at what they described as blatant disrespect by those responsible for the fireworks. Some said they thought it was gunshots and were very afraid as they thought someone was being robbed. Stabroek News understands that residents as far as Liliendaal, Sophia and Lodge heard the fireworks, which were described as being similar to the ones used by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) on the eve of Independence Day. But while many of the residents complained about the fireworks, one woman indicated that she enjoyed the display.
“Me and my son enjoyed it; I mean is not like it happen every day is a one off-something. I put my son right at the window and he enjoy watching it,” the woman said. Her son is just over a year old.
Stabroek News was told that the fireworks started just after 5 am and boxes after boxes were being lit. About 15 minutes after the display began and with the revellers dancing and having fun, a vanload of police arrived on the scene. But while attempting to identify the culprits, amidst the confusion, the two men who were lighting the fireworks replaced two remaining boxes in a white Tacoma and drove off. More policemen arrived on the scene and they arrested several persons including two women and two security officers from Buddy’s. The persons were arrested for disorderly behaviour. The residents were not confident that anything would come out of the arrests as they pointed out the persons in custody would likely not tell the police who was responsible for the fireworks.
Stabroek News was also told that the police removed the empty boxes which were on the tarmac in front of the popular nightspot.
Approached for a comment yesterday morning, owner of Buddy’s, Omprakash ‘Buddy’ Shivraj, initially told Stabroek News that he was unaware of any fireworks. When told that residents reported that the fireworks were being lit on his tarmac-which is used as a car park-the businessman denied this. “I know something happen on the road but I have nothing to do with it,” he told this newspaper.
Residents insisted that the fireworks went off in the car park and the white Tacoma from which the boxes were removed was parked there.
‘Pass the mark’
Cece, only name given, who told Stabroek News that she was born and grew up on Sheriff Street, said that while she has been disturbed many times by partygoers at the nightspot, yesterday’s fireworks display was “pass the mark.” She said that her household has several small children – the youngest being just over a year – and he woke up trembling with the noise. “It was terrible the noise, the explosion and I know some people would be afraid to talk,” the woman said. “It was like gunshots, going rata tata,” she said adding that she received many calls from people who wanted to know if it was gunshots.
Another resident in the area said even though he is an adult male, he was very scared when he first heard the fireworks. “I hug my pillow tighter, I was scared,” the man said revealing that his mother has a heart problem and he was afraid that the fireworks would have triggered it off but thankfully she got through it okay.
The man questioned how the fireworks entered Guyana and questioned whether it was not illegal to set off fireworks in the country. He and a group of friends expressed the view that nothing would come of the matter.
Another resident of the area said that his family thought initially that it was thunder. “We deh hearing it and we thought it was thunder”, the young man said. Shortly afterwards, he said, he jumped on his bicycle and passed Buddy’s and saw the police there. “I ride up and see one set ah man went in the (police) van”, he recalled, noting that these were the persons that the police had arrested. One woman, who lives in Sophia, said that it sounded like gunfire.
An angry Pearl Lewis, who lives in a ‘back’ house opposite Buddy’s, said she has had a running issue with Buddy’s but yesterday’s incident was the limit. The woman said it was she who called the police even before the fireworks went off because of the ruckus made by the partygoers.
She first called the Kitty Police Station and spoke to female police officer Phillips and later called Police Impact Base where she spoke to Corporal Jones and, shortly after, the police arrived on the scene. Lewis said she has called the Kitty Police Station so often that her name has been recorded but added she would continue to call as long as she is being disturbed.
Because of the years of annoyance being created by the nightspot and its partygoers, Lewis now has a form on which she documents the date, time and the officer she speaks to whenever she makes a report. She says she has written to Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee, Commissioner of Police Henry Greene, the Commander of ‘A’ Division and even Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) Bishop Juan Edgill as she and her sister feel they are being discriminated against. “Many nights I cannot sleep, the music and noise pounding in my ears but this morning [yesterday morning] was the limit I couldn’t take anymore,” the woman said as her sister, Desiree, nodded her head in agreement.
They said they were very afraid and questioned what would have happened if some of the flares had landed on the gas tank in the compound of Narine’s Bakery which is also opposite the nightclub.
The two women said sometimes they are threatened by persons who are in their parked vehicles playing music outside the nightclub. The persons also sometimes park in front of the ‘front’ house and when approached the men would become abusive and sometimes, according to the woman, would make comments such as “we run things.” One time the women’s mother, 74-year-old Cece who lives in the front house, was threatened by a man with a gun.
The woman also took the opportunity to complain about a generator that they say is operated by the owner of the Budget Supermarket. They pointed out that the generator is operated outside an empty building next door to them to power the supermarket that is on the other side of the empty building. “I carry he and all [the owner of the supermarket] to the ERC and if you see how (the ERC) l treat me like public enemy number one. Is like I had no right to complain,” Lewis said.
However, she did indicate that the ERC wrote to both Budget and Buddy’s and invited the owners to a meeting. She said that Shivraj’s son attended the meeting and informed that they were not the only ones making the noise but persons on the roadway also. The woman pointed out that those persons are customers of the supermarket as they would buy their drinks from that location and lime and play music.
While Stabroek News was there, the generator was off and the supermarket was open. When approached the persons working could not offer a comment but indicated that they would inform the owner who would call the office if he had a comment to make. Numbers were left but up to press time no call was received.