By Dale Andrews
Evidence has emerged that the gang controlled by Guyana’s most wanted man, Rondell ‘Fine Man’ Rawlins, consists mainly of teenage boys who fled from their homes in the village of Buxton.
Recent evidence has brought out that many of the members of the gang are no more than 17 years old.
Dwayne Sancho, who was captured by the security forces on Monday in a trail near Ituni, is only 14 years old, while Otis Fiffee, called ‘Mud Up,’ who was killed during the initial raid two Fridays ago, and Robin Chung, called ‘Chung Boy’ were mere 17 and 16 years old respectively.
Initially, Fiffee’s age was stated as 21 years old; however, when this newspaper visited Buxton yesterday during his funeral, the age on his coffin was stated as 17. His parents had given the earlier age.
There is evidence that Rawlins and other senior members of his gang had initially recruited the teenagers as look-outs while the gang was hiding out in the village of Buxton.
After they were flushed out by the security forces, some of the young men, who were already a part of the gang, went with them.
The parents of these young men, during recent interviews, indicated that their children left their homes despite several pleas for them to refrain from the criminal activities.
Speaking with this newspaper yesterday, Sancho’s mother, Karen, said that her son had joined the gang just as he became a teenager.
She said that on several occasions he was forcibly returned home by older relatives, who had urged him to change his ways.
However, according to his mother, the last time she saw him was several months ago, when he packed all of his clothes, stole her money and fled the house.
She said that she visited the Brickdam Police Station yesterday after she learnt that her son was captured, but was unable to speak with him.
“I carry food for him,” the woman said.
Sancho, who was discovered in a trail hungry, reportedly told investigators that he had survived in the jungle on kokerite and water.
Chung’s mother said that she learnt of her son’s death from yesterday’s edition of the newspapers. She said that she had not seen her son in quite a while.
These sentiments were also expressed by Fiffee’s mother, Wendy Fiffee, in a previous interview.
“I talk to he over and over! He get licks all. He used to say, ‘nah mind he business, people ah cochore and dem go dead,’ and all dem things.”
Eyewitnesses to the Bartica massacre had indicated that most of the gunmen were ‘young boys’.
But what could have led to these young men throwing their lives away to join a gang, knowing that the consequences invariably lead to certain death?
Many villagers are of the opinion that this is a result of constant Police harassment and profiling of the youths of Buxton. The young men became sympathizers with the gunmen.
“Dis boy was a quiet boy, but after Police keep harassing he and dem other boys in the village, he run away from home and I never use to hear from he,” Fiffee’s aunt, Wendy Roberts, had stated.
“Everybody scared of the Police! The young men, when they see Police, they run fuh they life; they ain’t gat fuh do nothing,” she added.
She added that because of such incidents no one feels safe in the community anymore, and some have chosen to flee the community because of the constant harassment.
“I remember another lady son de run away because Police always picking he up, and de next time she see he back, he de dead; and de thing is when dem run away you don’t hear from them until Police kill dem, and then you hear dat dem responsible for a set ah killings,” one resident said.
It was hardly any different for Simeon Ramcharran. A sister said that he left home in 2002 and never returned.
She said that in his younger days he was a bad boy, but not in the violent sense of the word. The Police would come to the house because people pointed fingers at him every time something happened in the village. “Even if he ain’t do something, them would say is he.”
She said that as her children became older, she and her brother clashed repeatedly, and that she could not keep having the Police visit her home.
Simeon left and lived with a girl on East Bank Demerara. The sister said that she soon heard that he was in Buxton, but by then it was too late. She said that he called in the early days, and when advised to leave, he would say that he was into something and that he could not come out.
“I use to attack the Police for him when they tried to assault him.”
His mother was philosophical about his death. “You live by the sword, you die by the sword.” She was dry-eyed while her daughters were in tears over their brother’s death.
The sisters also acknowledged their brother’s selfish streak. “He never catered for his mother or for anybody in the house. He never gave anybody anything.”
They are, however, prepared to bury him, and today they will visit the Georgetown Public Hospital Mortuary to identify the body.