“One Thursday dawn after a hectic football game with the boys, I went to bed early to enable me to rest well for work the next day. But, I was rudely woken up by the touch of a cold metal run by my neck at 3:45 am.”
This is the story of a friend of mine I have decided to call Kwabena who was robbed recently at his residence.
“I opened my eyes wondering what object had sent cold shivers down my spine and startled me from my dreams. Only to have three well-built men standing beside the bed with a machete,” he recounted.
According to him, he was instructed to keep quiet or risk being slaughtered. Imagine waking up at gunpoint or being woken up from your sleep with a knife pierced to your throat! What would be your first reaction?
The Director-General of the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in 2017 stated that on the average 50 robbery incidents are recorded weekly during 2008, but, has seen a significant decline almost decade ahead with the service recording 15 cases in a week.
The near-fatal experience of my friend made reality dawn on me that, there are unreported incidents that don’t make it to the national statistics and live with us daily.
Interestingly, research by Dr Justice Tankebe and Dr Kofi E. Boakye for the Africa Institute for Crime, Policy and Governance Research (AFRICPGR) confirmed my fear as they analyzed trends in violent crimes particularly robberies and murders in Ghana between 2012 and 2018.
The study showed that there were 1,919 robberies in 2018 which means 6.5 robberies per 100,000 population, the highest robbery rate in 7 years.
However, the research showed that murder rates pointed in the opposite direction where there were 500 murders in 2018 which means 1.8 murders per 100,000 population, the lowest in 7 years.
Have you ever paused to think about the aftermath of robberies? The financial loss and trauma victims have to deal with?
According to my friend, he had only ¢200 on him that night which he had to give to the robbers. He managed to report to work through the benevolence of a friend who lent him money.
“After collecting my laptop and two phones, one of which was given to me by my boss recently, a Samsung S9, the one with the knife asked me if I had money and I told him no, but, he told me he doesn’t care so I should give him the money or he would butcher me. I had no choice but to look through my bag where I kept the only 200 cedis I had on me and gave it to him,” he said.
He used to be a very good writer until the incident. Due to the psychological effect, now he resorts to writing short pieces rather than stories. He said, “I have been a tough person all my life but this incident has changed a part of me forever. When I’m at work it’s fine but when I’m home alone, it keeps playing back. I think my writings are better now. I’m working on short pieces now, no more stories.”
According to a story published by GhanaWeb on May 3, 2019, a pregnant woman who was attacked by armed robbers delivered prematurely. Thirty-five-year-old pregnant woman, Babie Ajara, gave birth to a premature baby after she was forced to lie on her belly for over six hours.
She was attacked while attending a local market at Santijan community, 80 kilometres from Tumu in the Upper West region, during which she was robbed of her money and grains meant for her father’s funeral.
According to GhanaWeb, the armed men wielding guns forced her to lie flat on her belly, searched her and took away all her money and they even removed her underwear, thinking there was money in there until she got to the hospital and underwent preterm delivery.
Let’s try to imagine how she raised funds to bury her late father and how she feels whenever she sees her baby, that innocent child who will forever remind her of that gory day.
I believe the police are trying their best but I think they can do better and get to destinations quicker, now that the government has equipped them with luxurious cars in support of the Police Transformation Program.
Just like some time last year the testimony of a social media user about the proactive nature of the police in responding to an armed robbery distress call she sent left Ghanaians in shock. We expect comments like that more so the perception about the Police can be changed and their reputation restored.
According to Jessica Abudey, writing on Facebook, her family was in danger of an armed robbery attack when she called the police hotline and within ten minutes, a police team got to her location to save the day.
However, such comments can not be made by members of communities with deplorable roads. A typical example is the case of the pregnant woman, Ajara.
In her case, as reported by GhanaWeb, the Chief of Santijan, Kuoro N-pia Docta Kupua, lamented about inadequate social amenities in the area and the bad road network.
According to Kuoro Kupua, about 20 communities were terrorized by armed robbers and their activities were increasingly gaining grounds, meanwhile, security persons appeared to look unconcerned.
“Anytime a robbery incident occurs and we call on the police, they report late because of what they describe as not just the long-distance but about the bad roads,” he said.
In March 2018 the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, held an emergency meeting with top security capos to draw up a strategy to solving the increasing spate of armed robberies in the country.
Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, told pressmen shortly after the meeting that citizens should expect friendly visits by police and military personnel in their communities as part of an intelligence-led approach to fight the canker of armed robbery.
We are in July 2019 now and from my part of the country, nothing of that sort has commenced. I would like to end with a humble question, Mr Veep please how far with that project?