Top Cop warns of consequences for blocking roads, disrupting traffic
…thorough probe launched into Hopetown incident
…as Commander expresses concern over those seeking ‘vigilante’ justice
Acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken is appealing to members of the public to desist from unlawful acts, such as blocking roads, burning tyres and disrupting traffic flow while simultaneously intimidating and robbing commuters and the travelling public.
The Commissioner’s appeal came in the wake of two recent incidents – one at Buxton, East Coast Demerara on February 1, and the other on Sunday at Hopetown, West Coast Berbice.
The two incidents saw persons burning tyres and other debris and setting vehicles alight as they resorted to blocking the roadways and preventing the smooth flow of traffic.
Commissioner Hicken made it clear that this type of behaviour is unlawful and will not be tolerated. He said those held accountable would face the full brunt of the law, and there would be a zero-tolerance approach from the Guyana Police Force to ensure that law and order are maintained throughout the country.
On Sunday, a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) rank and a student of Fort Wellington Secondary School were seriously injured after they were struck down by a speeding car along the Fort Wellington Public Road, West Coast Berbice (WCB), on Sunday.
Injured was GDF Reservist, 22-year-old Kevin Wilson while the student was identified as 14-year-old Jaheim Gangoo. The situation later escalated into hours of unrest as residents lit the car involved on fire.
Commander for Region Five Division, Assistant Commissioner Kurleigh Simon has indicated that while the situation is back to normal at Hopetown, a thorough investigation has been launched into all circumstances surrounding the incident.
A report from the Guyana Police Force on Monday stated that about 17:26h on Sunday, a 19-year-old of Bath Settlement went to the Fort Wellington Police Station and reported the incident.
The teenager claimed that a few moments earlier, he was driving motor car PNN 1801 when two men on pedal cycles rode in front of him, causing him to collide with one of the men. He alleged that moments later, a crowd gathered at the scene and persons robbed him of his iPhone and one gold chain.
As a result, a rank uplifted a medical certificate and attempted to escort the teen driver to seek medical attention at the Fort Wellington Public Hospital. However, according to the Police statement to the press, the teenager’s father, a 43-year-old businessman of Bath Settlement, began verbally abusing the Police. The teenager also refused to be escorted to the hospital, instead entering a motor vehicle which drove off.
Police officers proceeded to the accident scene at Hopetown where the motor car was stationary on the southern footpath, with extensive damage to the front. There was no key in the vehicle.
Public-spirited citizens pulled out the vehicle from the said position to be escorted to the Fort Wellington Police Station. However, several angry residents lifted the vehicle back to the southern side of the road and began damaging it further.
Despite trying to quell the crowd, the Police contended that several persons began to vandalise the vehicle, and some chanted, “let’s burn the vehicle”.
A private tow truck service was then called in to take the vehicle to Fort Wellington Police Station. It was until 19:00h that evening that the truck arrived and several persons tried to prevent the car from being towed away.
In the heat of the situation, a mob of residents threw a liquid substance on the motor car and started to throw missiles at both the car and truck.
The crowd became uncontrollable and damaged the front windshield of the tow truck, the side glass and other parts of the vehicle, and then they set fire to the motor car.
This resulted in the Guyana Fire Service being called to the scene, and the fire was extinguished. The car involved in the accident was later towed to the Fort Wellington Police Station, along with one electrical and a pedal cycle.
Both the driver and his father are in Police custody. Police investigations are continuing.
The two accident victims were examined by a doctor at the Fort Wellington Hospital, where the 14-year-old was treated and sent away. However, he returned to the Fort Wellington Hospital on Monday for further medical treatment but could not have been assisted and had to be referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The GDF rank was referred to the New Amsterdam Public Hospital, where he was further seen and examined by a doctor on duty. He was admitted as a patient in the said institution suffering from injuries to his head and body. His condition is regarded as stable.
His sister, Nuala McAlmont, said she has since been able to speak with her brother who reportedly told her that he was on an electric bike when the car hit him. She said he expressed concern about the well-being of the other person injured.
“He ask me about his friend and wants to know what happened to him,” McAlmont said while pointing out that the GDF Reservist suffered injuries to his head and other parts of his body, including his back.
“He was bleeding through his nose,” she added.
This publication made several attempts to speak with the relatives of the driver of the car who promised to provide their side of the story but to no avail.
Commander Simon expressed concern over persons overreacting in such situations, seeking vigilante justice in that they take matters into their own hands and on many occasions damage people’s property or even assault them.
“In respect to Sunday’s incident at Hopetown where the car was burnt, that would have seriously affected our investigation because that car would have had to be examined by a certifying officer to see what were the extent of damages caused by the accident. With the car being burnt it would somewhat affect that process.”
Simon said the Police also have to look into the interest of the teenage driver, who was assaulted.
“We have to be balanced in looking at both sides of the coin. We have to look at the accident first and foremost and then we have to look at the fact that he was assaulted and his property was also damaged. We have to be fair in executing our duties and ensuring that justice is properly served,” the Commander pointed out.
Last Wednesday, unrest was created by residents of Buxton, East Coast Demerara (ECD), following an operation conducted by the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) in the area, where a man was arrested with a large quantity of marijuana.
Scores of persons gathered on the roadway and burnt debris, while a truck driver was pulled from his truck and his vehicle was lit on fire. A driver of a canter that was transporting wood was also attacked, with the windshield of his vehicle being damaged as debris was thrown at him. (G12)