It used to be the odd petty thief who scales your wall to steal something when there was no one at home or the pick pocket or bag snatcher in a crowded place.
These days however, walls and gates and dogs or the frightful watchman are not enough to deter the brazen class of thieves armed with guns and disguised by their balaclavas. They dont care who they kill or hurt in their bid for some loot.
An article in the news today on 'Ghana-web' caught my eye and it was very appalling to read the events.
A lot has been said in the past about this form of robbery being handed down by Nigerian yobs and Thugs who cross into Ghana to ply their evil trade; but you only need to park around the Nima highway, Maamobi or the spintex road on a lonely night in a flashy car with a puncture and within minutes a barrel of a gun or knife will be keeping you company and relieve you of your cash and valuables. If you are lucky you go home in one piece or end up in casualty or the morgue.
I know the GPS has cracked down on a lot of these infernal creatures but perhaps it is time a nation-wide campaign of sorts was rolled out to weed out these parasites. And for the first time in my life i think i am beginning to understand the 'Instant justice squad' aka the Lynch Mob who deliver immediate punishment whenever a thief is caught. And without sounding like a vicious person perhaps these armed robbers should face the firing squad so their compatriots learn the value of life and property.
I remember a few years back the police had the NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH COMMITEES in certain areas. Those who embraced it had crime free neighbourhoods. All the able bodied men and women had pep talks from the police and were given guard and patrol duties and each person had their turn at least once a month operating in groups of three or more. They set up road blocks at the main entrance to the avenues and crescents they lived in late at night, hence any approaching vehicle had to go slow to be identified.
On top of that each household had whistles. One blow on a whistle from a particular household alerted a lot of whistles and neighbours in the direction of the intruder and many an unlucky soul who tampered with property in such neighbourhoods cursed the day they were born.
We all know resources for the Police are a bit on the low side but perhaps it is time some simple but very effective options were put in place so these armed robbers feel outnumbered and people feel more secure at night.
Anybody got any suggestions? Lets put them forward.
And whiles we are on the subject i couldn't help chipping in about certain Banks like Barclays who moan and groan in their annual surveys that cash transactions are more popular than debit cards in Ghana/Africa.
Well who wants to be mugged at ATM points when they want to take out their 'nkakrawa'
Best bet is to go into the bank, collect the cash and shove it in your 'aboso'.
These banks take African customers for granted. Where are the CCTV's and gendarmes guarding the ATM POINTS?
THE CRINGE FACTOR! WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT GOD MADE THREE WORLDS AND THAT I COME FROM THE THIRD WORLD. THE ISSUE OF RACE IS GEOGRAPHICAL AND NOT A STATUS SYMBOL AND NEITHER IS MY SKIN BLACK NOR YOURS WHITE.
In terms of armed robbery, Africa on the whole is littered with small arms, recently imported from China, but now I understand built locally (at least in Ghana).
I'm not a sociologist, but I'm going to guess when the gap between the rich and poor is so wide, violent crime becomes prevalent.
Who wants to be rich in any society, when as a rich person you have to spend hours of time worried about some criminal taking your wealth?
Who is at fault? Part government, part middle class.
Perhaps a reader can clarify; does government procure small arms from abroad, or does it find a way to stimulate Ghanaian manufacture (the skills are already in existence, after all)?
As for the middle class, I have a whole host of rhetorical questions.
Is the middle class house made using local building materials? What about the fixtures, doors, ceramic tiles? From what I've seen, so many middle class purchases are of imported products, which don not stimulate the economy as much as promoting Ghanaian products, raising the economy, employment, etc.
The described neighbourhood watch scheme sounds quite effective.
But the writer also mentions another factor, imported criminality. This suggests to me that Ghanaians must not be too parochial and not support Ecowas/Ghana government efforts to secure peace and stability throughout the west Africa region.
Can the army and police forces not be deployed to monitor more effectively illicit arms trading?
As for the bank atm, contrary to perception (I've always been surprised, yet accepting of such statistics), the level of cash thefts at atm is relatively low.
Talking about guns; i think its not just an African Palaver...the whole world is littered with them. And its not just China who export: Russia, Britain, South Africa and so on are in on the trade. And you are right some manufacture does go on in Ghana albeit on a small scale. Kumasi Magazine anyone? But the sort of guns produced are less sophisticated; more for hunting game mostly pellet loading guns.
But having said that i also do know that there are strict gun laws prevailing in Ghana and stringent licensing protocols in place, which just goes to prove that illegal arms deals are going on and these criminals are not authorised to possess guns.
I beg to differ on your take on deploying Soldiers for such an issue. That is the job of the police and the legislature and border controls 'CEPS' to avoid any infiltration of guns into town; and of course the duty of every law abiding citizen to desist from smuggling and supplying guns illicitly. We are not at war per se; just weeding out criminals. I would rather say that the police and Customs need more logistics as they are more than capable of handling these affairs if they have the neccessary things in place.
Besides regional security is as equally important as national ones so ECOWAS and ECOMOG are something to be encouraged. At least the people of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Ivory Coast and most recently Somalia/Ethiopia will tell you what an invaluable resource it is to have our ECOWAS force in place. And God forbid that it should happen to us but if Ghana found itself in the doldrums that some countries have found themselves in, we will use our own African forces to keep the peace. Dont forget that Akwasi Broni is usually happy to sleep and snore without batting an eyelid on conflicts in Africa, save the arms dealing. True, Ecowas trouble shoots at times but better the show of unity than none.
Now you also touched on the middle class and how their houses are built from imported materials. May i ask what your point is over there in relationship to armed robbery? Somebody correct me if i am wrong but there is Ghacem for Cement, locally manufactured blocks, local quarrys, timber galore, steel works in Tema and beyond, Naco for louvre blades, local terrazzo makers, carpenters to manufacture doors etc, tile factories, and Aluworks for roofs etc if need be.
Unless of course you are implying that the houses are so affluent in structure that it attracts these robbers, i think you will find that save for a few items of luxury that a person might choose to add to their house the majority of the raw materials are produced locally.
On the ATM issue, dont knock it my brother. There have been a lot of horror stories. Not everyone has a safe story to tell especially for evening withdrawals.
The fact is what right has anyone got to go into somebody's house whether it is a shack made of reeds or a mansion made of marble and maim and kill its owner and take away their hard earned property? None whatsoever!
And isn't it shameful that the police and customs are so ill equipped they cannot respond to such robberies with the speed and preparedness needed?
Is there an element of participation on the part of the units mentioned to the issue at stake whereby they turn a blind eye to things in order to line their pockets with cedi notes? Or does the law need to be more firm on gun crime?
Should every household be eligible to a gun for security and thereby show these armed robbers that they will be given fire for fire?
Just to clarify my point regarding middle class purchasing decision and violent crime: a weak link admittedly, but what I am trying to say is, if the rich fail to make any effort to try and promote local produce, then at least statistically, higher un-employment, higher proportion of society in desparate straits, higher likelihood of violent crime. Again, I'm no sociologist so I suspect what I'm saying may well be fundamentally wrong.
Cash ATMs? Well I'm personally biased as I almost never use them at nightfall...:)
I am with you R. The problems in society always start with a little trickle before flooding the whole system.
Last June was the first time I visited Ghana since I left 15 years ago. I was scared to death when I went "home." I was telling myself is it worth to go through this fear in my own country when I am safer in Toronto? Because the stories I heard wasn't a joke. Thank God my two weeks did not end up in the headlines. Or maybe it wouldn't if I got robbed and killed.
Mostly armed robbery is rampant in big cities and places which experienced war in the past and therefore creates a poverty line. Ghana doesn't seem to fit this cateria. My fear is the influx of other nationals that are causing the rise in armed robbery. If it is so, how come Ghana is finding it hard to deal with it?
This should not have been problem at all given the Ghana I knew standing by to watch it crumble. Probably another Ghanaian attitude "PASSIVITY" to such issue is what is kiiling us. I know the government and the people have taken it seriously and we hope it will reap good results.
And hope that I won't have to shit in my pants in my next visit.
I wish we could get an ADT home security system here but that is only good for when you are home outside the house it's pretty dangerous still and not a lot you can do to stop a robbery from happening.