Youths in robbery rampage at Enterprise market
August 24, 2002
Two stallholders at the Enterprise Market on the East Coast of Demerara were robbed at gunpoint and another was threatened yesterday as three youths carried out a brazen daylight attack, stealing about $200,000 cash and a quantity of merchandise in full view of shoppers.
It was the latest in a series of relentless attacks on businesses large and small since earlier this year. It also appears that handguns which have been stolen over the last few months are being distributed to gangs as all the youths had.
Vendors said the robbers did not appear to be older than 15 or 16 years old.
The trio was first spotted sitting on an empty stall for quite some time before they launched the attacks at 3:15 p.m.
Norma Cheong told this newspaper yesterday that the three youths were sitting on the vacant stall next to hers, counting off a number of $1000 bills. But she just assumed that they were planning on buying something.
“These boys went sitting down here,” Cheong said as she pointed to the vacant stall, “and I sit down on my chair. So I looking at them.”
But after some time, she left the stall for a short while and on her way back, saw one of the youths robbing Haimwantie Shiwpal.
“I see they stripping de lady apron, so I say, ‘Man, what you all doing?’ and the boy say, `Shut yuh mouth and don’t say another word!’ and he point de gun at me,” Cheong stated with a tremor in her voice. According to her, the three robbers fired a number of shots while escaping across a trench.
“All three of them had gun in they hand...You know how long they sit down here checking a set of thousand dollar bills? but I say they come to buy in the market, but I didn’t know them is bandit,” she told this newspaper. Most vendors claimed to have heard three shots.
From all indications, when the gunmen left the stall next to Cheong’s, they pretended, at first, to be interested in the clothes another vendor, Narindaichal, had on display.
“One come and price a $2,500 jersey and they say they want three.
I told them I [will] give them for $2,200 [each] and one went back and tell the other two. When them come back, dem nah tek about two minutes, they come and one of them push they hand and pull out a gun and tell he [a boy who sells with her] leh he empty out he pocket...They say, ‘Don’t keep no noise!’,” the woman said. She ran and hid behind one of the stalls as the men stole six pairs of pants, each worth $2,500; three others that cost $3,500 each; and four jerseys valued $2,500 each.
Immediately after, Haimwantie and her husband, Mahadeo Shiwpal, whose stall was close by, were attacked.
Stabroek News found a visibly shaken Haimwantie not far from her stall, lamenting her loss while a group of women offered comfort. As tears streamed down her face, she recalled noticing the three men sitting on the stall while she was selling one of her customers.
“Me say, ‘Auntie, you see dem two boy who sit down on dat stand? Dem nah look nice, you know.’ She turn ‘round and watch dem to...By time she could talk, they [the gunmen] done walk come up,” the woman said.
Realising that they were about to be robbed, the woman said she tried to move away from the stand to a nearby spot where there were other vendors, but one of the youths blocked her path and snatched her apron. That was when Cheong intervened and was threatened.
“They go ‘round so [and] put me husband for kneel down and pick up all the money from deh. They grab about $200,000 because most of de money was in the apron. Me does get meh bucket with change and they tek that to. They stay about three minutes, tek down she [Narindaichal’s] clothes and run through [the empty lot aback the market],” Mrs. Shiwpal told Stabroek News.
One member of the market committee told this newspaper that representation was made to the Police Comman-der in the area, seeking the security of two armed policemen every Friday when there is a busy market. One rank was sent during the previous two Fridays, but not yesterday.
“After the people refuse to pay stall rent for selling in the market, the market committee went and see the Commander and the Commander assure we that every Friday, from [noon] to 6 pm, he will send two armed policemen. The first Wednesday, I went myself to remind the policemen. Last week, I asked my wife, and they came. This week, we remind them and they never come until we tell them what happen. I think it is negligence, because if they [robbers] see a policeman, they would think twice foh come and attack the people,” the man said.
The community of Enterprise has been plagued by recent barefaced attacks, which usually occur during the day. Just a few weeks ago, a man placed a gun to the head of an 11-year-old boy who was out buying fish for his mother and relieved him of a gold chain.
Prior to that incident, a salesman was robbed and wounded by two gun-toting bandits.
On each occasion, the bandits fled into the scheme adjacent to Enterprise.