Armed bandits on Tuesday night stormed the Guyana Society for the Blind headquarters where they attacked several residents before carting off a laptop.
Members of the society are calling on the authorities for better security measures to be put in place.
Stabroek News understands that the attack by four men, one of whom was armed with a gun occurred around 10 pm at Lot 44 High Street, Werk-en-Rust, Georgetown.
At the time, several residents of the institute including Musa Haynes, Selwin Jacobs and Anthony Robinson were present.
Reports are that Haynes was standing in the compound when he heard footsteps approaching and the voices of two males demanding “hand over the money”.
As a result, he responded saying, “this is the blind institute, no money is here” and the footsteps began to recede.
Subsequently, Jacobs, the caretaker who is sighted, was seated in the hallway when he heard footsteps and a man making the same demand to him. After telling them that there was no money, the bandits then broke open the grill which secures the door to the storeroom where they carted off the laptop and escaped.
When Stabroek News visited the institute yesterday, the residents were still traumatized and the main entrance door was tightly secured from inside with a padlock.
The police were also in the process of obtaining statements.
Visually impaired Anthony explained that he and Jacobs were in the yard to pick up their laundry when the bandits pounced on them.
“He (Jacobs) pick up he clothes first and when he finish I went and pick up my clothes after him and while picking up my clothes I hear some movements like in the grass in the yard”, Robinson said.
He noted that he didn’t pay the strange sound any attention but rather hurriedly tried to get into the building and lock the door but the men forced their way in.
“…and it get a guy just run pass me and how I know is I hear the slippers making the noise so I turn and shout out to one of my friend…I turn and seh `Musa, Musa, Musa’ and nobody ain’t answer me so when I deh by the door side and one of them run and start assault Selwin and it had couple more outside there and they start run pass me and one ah them throw me straight into the wall so I end up lying flat on the ground”, Robinson related.
He added that he began to shout to alert the others in the building but got no responses. “I shout for Selwin and all I heard he saying ‘alright buddy no, no, no, this is bare blind people deh hay suh, we aint got nothing’ and all them saying is ‘where is the money and keys’”.
Robinson further stated that while one of the bandits kept watch on him and Musa, the others proceeded to another section of the building.
“They avoid me from going through the door, so I couldn’t go through there so me and Musa end up staying right hay suh so they tell me don’t get up but I so presumptuous I get up and I walk to Musa and ask he ‘wah happen? Wah going on? Is wah really going on?’ And he seh that how he aint know and I seh you sure you aint know going on buddy. I seh yuh you sure yuh aint know wah going on, look like them man robbing Selwin deh, he turn and seh ‘fuh truth’ but like he like he didn’t really get the essence of what going on”, Robinson explained.
He said the bandits placed the other residents to lie flat on the ground while they searched for valuables.
Jacobs, on the other hand said that after they entered the building, one of the bandits rushed towards him.
After realizing that he was not visually impaired, one of the bandits pulled a mask over his face and held Jacobs at gunpoint before ordering him to lay flat on the ground.
“They give me one hit in my head and they search up my pocket and so but the only thing I had on me was a testament”, Jacobs said.
“They searched them guys, one of them had money, one of them guys had $300 in he pocket and when he give them they throw it back to him and tell he keep duh”, he added.
Delay in police response
Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Society for the Blind, Cecil Morris said that after he received a call informing him of the robbery, he immediately left his home and called the police.
“I call the Impact (Police Impact Base, Brickdam). About 20 minutes after no police was here. I call back the Impact and I tell the girl that I call 20 minutes ago telling you what happen at the society and you know look how far we is from the station, we not very far, why 20 minutes somebody can’t meet over here”, Morris explained, while adding that he was given another number to call .
“She give me another number and tell me call and when I call the kind of stupid questions she was asking me like…I telling her I am calling from High Street, St Phillips Green, the Blind Society and she was asking me where is that and all kind of thing”, he said.
According to Morris, when the call ended, the female told him “we will get to you”.
The police finally turned up at the scene yesterday morning when one of the residents made contact with a police friend. “He (the friend) listen to what we had to say and so and he tell us he will get back to us in the morning and so but is this morning (yesterday morning) the police came when we call the station again and make another report”, Morris noted.
Morris is also calling on the authorities to place more emphasis on the society. “We are calling on the authorities to do something about this area and blind people and put some kind of guard or some kind of protection here”, he said.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jeanette Jordan said she is really disappointed that those in authority are not looking into the plight of the visually impaired. “Many calls have been made to the authorities but we don’t find the kind of result that we are expecting”, she said.