Should Minister Gajraj have been a nosier neighbour? What the People say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
November 11, 2002

Related Links: Articles on civil society
Letters Menu Archival Menu

Do you know who your neighbours are and what they do? The Minister of Home Affairs Ronald Gajraj very recently came under criticism following the discovery that wanted prison escapee Dale Moore and other criminals were living only eight doors away from his home in Lamaha Gardens. People say the Minister should have paid more attention to his neighbourhood. We asked the man/woman-in-the-street just how much they know about what goes on next door and whether the minister should have been just a little more aware.

Pratima Doodnauth - research assistant: `Well, personally, I am not a very social person and I leave early for work and I come home late. I know some people at my immediate surroundings and beyond that it's only mere acquaintances. I just say good morning and good afternoon. And I don't think the Minister can be blamed for not knowing his neighbours.. for heaven's sake he's a minister. He probably leaves early and comes home late and personally I don't know when people move out or move in. The people that are levelling the criticism are just looking to take another potshot at the man. I don't think blame should be put on his security either. It's not as if someone was going to intrude into his was eight houses away. Although I think they should be prepared for any unexpected things and this should serve as a wake-up call where security is concerned. But I don't believe they can be blamed for not knowing who exactly is renting the home eight houses away from the minister. What about the people living next door, how could they not know? This is Guyana we are living in: people know who is coming in and who is going out and they should see the strange people moving in and out. I don't know how they could not see anything.'

Nalini Sanichar - student: `I don't even see some of my neighbours. Where I live it's just `hi' and `right' and that's it. My neighbours they go to work and we have to be out all day. We only get together on special occasions like dinners. But when it comes to Minister Gajraj, he has a 24-hour security detail who should have observed something strange and know who is living near him and in that case he should have known. If you have guards they are supposed to know who goes and comes because they are there all the time. Guards are not only supposed to look out, they are supposed to know what is happening. That is their duty and responsibility. And these are high-profile criminals, don't you think a strange happening would have occurred which the guards should have observed?'

Raslij James - musician with the Congo Nya group: `Yes I know my neighbours, we live very closely, I go over to them and they come over at me. I think he should have known if something is going on in his neighbourhood, I would have known. But that area is different, it's a residential area and I realise that the people there don't usually live like we do in the ghetto. And maybe he possibly does not pay attention to his surroundings. He probably just goes home in the night and goes to work in the mornings. But if you are living somewhere you should know what is going on around your community. And I know he is very busy but what about his security, they are usually there and they should know, they are supposed to be on guard and know what is going on.'

Patrick Erskine - self-employed: `Yes, I know my neighbours. I'm sure I know my neighbours. But, like everything else, you can only know what they want you to know. Especially when they have some shady aspects of their lives, people are very meticulous to ensure that you do not know about some parts of their life. And unless they are careless and you are very observant you would never find out. In the case of Dale Moore I think somebody in the neighbourhood should have been able to know that something abnormal was happening or notice some strange activity. It did not have to only be Gajraj alone and I think it's an unfair attack on the Minister himself because there were other people living in between. Other neighbours, what about them, they should have been interrogated. I don't totally agree that those people just moved in there and nobody in there knew.'

Thamala Isaacs - housewife: `I don't know my neighbours so much, I'm usually just in and out and I don't really mix with them much. But I do know all the people living in my street. But the minister was actually living so near he should have known. Even if you don't mix, he should have known who was living there. And at some point or the other they would have passed right there. And even if he did not know, his personal security is supposed to be aware of things like that, because when anyone moves into the neighbourhood I would expect them to know who, especially with the way things are now they should really be more aware. And as guards they should be trained to be observant because you don't know who is who.'

Althea Da Silva - student: `I live in North East La Penitence and it's a very small community and everyone comes together when there is a problem to be solved. I would say we are a close knit community. But there are people who keep to themselves and so, most of them may not know everybody. And they should not criticise him for that. Although they should be more vigilant about people next door. They should try to find out what they are like, get to know them. But what about the people living right next to them, they didn't know anything and he was living eight houses away. So how was he to know when the people next door did not even know. And his security, they should have been the ones to investigate what is going on in the neighbourhood because they were assigned to protect him. So, he shouldn't get all the blame.'

Aubrey Sergeant - mining engineer: `I hardly know my neighbours five to six houses away. But I do know those living directly next to me. I am not a very social guy at home and I don't think this is a case where he should have known. I am not sure but maybe he is the kind of person who doesn't like to socialise or stick his nose into people's business eight houses down the road. I don't think that he felt his safety was being threatened so much that he has to know what is going on eight houses down the road. And another thing is that he lives in a residential area and there is never any need to go to the neighbours for anything and he might have felt he did not have to fear for his security.'

Vickie Hardeo: Private sector employee: `I know my neighbours and I know quite a lot about them, by dealing with them and interacting with them. We socialise, we go to functions, fishing, and we play cricket in the streets. But you see the neighbourhood where the minister is living, people don't socialise in such neighbourhoods. They don't really check in on one another. It's just "Hi, Hello" in the morning or when they are passing each other or driving on the streets. There is a difference between the types of neighbourhoods. But I think he should have known. He is the Minister of Home Affairs. Some of his security should have known and he is responsible for them. And then again, maybe he does have the security but they are not doing the work.'

Stacy Fredericks - student: `I think I know my neighbours I live next door to. He should have known, he was living next to them and he isn't the only person to be blamed, everybody living next door, they should have seen something suspicious. They must have noticed something strange going on and could have known what was going on. And he has security who should have also been aware of what was happening.'

Neil Limerick - plumber: `I know my neighbours very well, we get along, we talk with each other everyday. I think we have a good relationship. I know everybody in my street and if I live in an area I have to know what is going on, what is taking place. Obviously his [the minister's] security did not do their work.
They should have noticed strangers in the community, they are supposed to know. Now, I think it's time for the minister to give somebody else a chance.'

Site Meter