This week on ‘What the People Say’ persons share their comments on the recent upsurge of crime in Berbice where young boys were involved.
Interviews and photos by Shabna Ullah and David Papannah
‘You find that a set of young boys in my area (Bath) are not going to school. They use drugs and would steal to support their habit. You cannot go out and leave your homes in peace. If you don’t put someone to watch it, they would break in and steal anything they can get like groceries, bicycle and even old working clothes. The other day a young man got his hand chopped because he stole from someone. People sometimes wonder if police are involved with the criminals because when you call them they don’t come. They would send the neighbourhood police.’
‘Many youths in my area use drugs and that leads them to serious crimes. Police would lock up a few persons they catch using it but they would not go after the drug dealers. Late at night these youths would be out of their homes. You mean to tell me their parents don’t know where they are going and what they are doing? If they end up dead, you would hear that their children never did anything wrong. Once they are on drugs they would start stealing from their homes first. Then they would stick people up in the street with knives and rob them. After that they become big criminals where they use guns, like what is happening on the Corentyne. Thank God they haven’t reached that stage here in West Berbice. But at the rate they are going, they would soon reach it. The other night a young boy was walking on the road and they slashed his hand with a knife and took away his money. Residents ran them with sticks but did not catch them. Jobs are there, like constructing and farming and so, but they just don’t want to work.’
‘A lot of youths are getting into a life of crime because their minds are not geared to work. They want easy money and to live on other people’s wealth. They need to get into work study or some sort of training to enhance their skills. I think that the friends they keep influence them to be involved in crimes. It also has to do with family background, for instance if parents tell lies, the children would tell lies too. There are cases too where the adults would hide the faults of the young ones. They need parental guidance. Drugs alone do not necessarily cause them to become thieves. They just want to show that they have the power and authority to steal at all cost. In West Berbice, most of the youths are not working and would be idling. I know a few who are hooked on drugs but I haven’t heard if they are involved in crime.’
Semona Ramsarran, self-employed, ‘It is sad to see so many young people have turned to a life of crime. As a youth I would like to advise them to be involved in community services, religious activities, sports or youth groups instead of idling. This would help them to have positive interaction. I won’t say drugs cause them to get into crime but it is based mostly on peer pressure. Some are afraid to do crime but they may want to prove to their friends that they can fit in. I think parents should speak to their children more and be involved in their lives. They also need to look at their friends and be strict about who they associate with. In Berbice, parents are hardly interested in their children’s lifestyles. They are more occupied with work and what’s best for them and not what’s best for their children.’
Rodcliff Webster, electrical technician, ‘Killing and robbing can never be right. My honest belief is that the government is not doing enough. You always find that when the government is not helping to solve the crime situation, the criminals would take advantage. A government is supposed to give justice where it is due. When the government is strict, criminals, including youths, tend to toe the line, if not they get out of control like what is happening now. More jobs need to be created so there can be a reduction of criminal activities.’
Ravindranauth, self-employed, ‘This crime situation is really bad. I do not know what the government plans to do about it, but they need to tackle the situation very fast. The young people have too much free time and I think if communities start to create volunteer projects to build the communities the young people can be involved and be a part of it. In this way they would be taken up and not have much free time to be in bad things. Also I really believe that the police should respond to people’s complaints right away. They should not be turning up after the crime is committed. They should be brave and do their job well.
Feroze Jafferally Self Employed: ‘To me, the crime scene in Berbice and in the country is terrible, just terrible. Young people have too much free time on their hands to idle. Jobs need to be created; if jobs are not created I don’t think the crime situation would reduce. Another reason why the crime rate is high in Berbice is because police are not responding on time. They [police] need to address the issue of only having one officer at the station. A lot of times, when people call and report that there is something happening, they are told that only one officer at the station or the vehicle is out on patrol or the vehicle is not working. It should not be like that, they should always have enough officers at the station and a working vehicle in other to respond. Also, I think if police are paid better they would do a better job in protecting lives.’
Mike Nagamootoo Private Sector: ‘Our crime situation in the entire country is outrageous. People are becoming fearful for their lives and the business that they do. People are afraid to invest their monies into the business sector. These steady crimes are oppressing the people. Berbice is accustomed to being peaceful and quiet. If we are going to maintain the peace and quiet, communities and police would need to work together. Police also need to respond promptly to calls made about crimes; they need to establish some form of communication between their selves. For example if a group is out on patrol and someone calls to report something like a robbery or a murder is happening persons at the office should be able to contact the patrol group and alert them. Also the unsolved crimes are causing many persons to be more stressed and fearful of their daily activities. Our officers should work more hard in cracking the cases to give our people an ease of mind.’
Basdeo Beharilall Senior Citizen: ‘As a pensioner I am fearful, too much people are getting robbed and kill for what they work hard for. This crime situation in our country is overbearing and worrisome if this crime rate continues to rise, our country would hardly see progress. Many overseas based Guyanese wants to return home and live but because they are fearful for their lives, they are not coming home back not even to visit. Also I think the rampant crimes are causing investors to re-think about investing in Guyana. . Police needs to be more serious with their jobs. I hope the new commissioner creates some sort of plan to ease the crime situation in the country. Police should work really hard to solve the cases and catch bandits. When persons see that there is justice in country and police are serious with the criminals they, they would be less fearful and return home and investors will come in and help boost our country.’
Samantha Mc Donald Self employed: ‘The crime problem in our country is causing people to be fearful for their life. Everybody is working hard to make ends meet and people coming and kill you for it is just wrong. Police need to be more serious in catching the bandits. They need to be available when they are called upon. Many times people call and police are not at the station. I think to solve the crime problem in Guyana more policemen should be employed. In that way there would always be enough police to respond to crime and conduct patrols. This crime situation making our country look bad’.