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Fear grips Havendale

Residents of Havendale, St Andrew, are living in fear after the recent attack that led to the untimely and accidental death of 18-year-old Pia Phillips.

Phillips was accidentally shot by her father after gunmen attacked her and her family as they returned home from church. Pia's father, who was responding to his daughter's screams, reportedly tripped and fell, discharging his licensed firearm. The bullet hit Pia, who died a day later in hospital.

Miss Pearl, a resident of the community for just over five months, told THE STAR that although she trusted in God, she was taking certain precautionary measures to ensure her safety. "Even when mi deh here, if mi inside, mi lock in mi self. A mus compulsory mek mi come out," she said. As she spoke to THE STAR from her yard, she revealed that she was only outside because she was watching her sister, who was a few metres away waiting on a taxi or bus.

She said the break-ins and shootings have being getting worse since she moved into the area, and told THE STAR of an incident in which a resident on the avenue next to hers was shot at his home in broad daylight. She said, "Mi trus in God, but like di other night I went on di road, an dem [her family] a tell mi seh dem nuh like when mi go out cause it not safe."

Raping and robbing

Miss Pearl told THE STAR that quite a number of persons had either moved out of the community or were expressing a desire to do so. "Because of di raping and robbing, plenty people moving outta di area. You don't know who is who. You jus see vehicle a drive an yu don't know who inna dem." And while admitting that more police patrols would be comforting to the residents, she said, "Yuh safer wid yuh Bible, dan wid police still."

Taxi drivers who operate in the area are also concerned about the recent activities and have devised and implemented new measures to ensure their safety. Jimbo, one driver, told THE STAR, "Mi nuh feel safe out ya. Wi out ya right tru di day, but mi go in sometime from all 5:30."

Another added, "Yeh man. As it touch 10 o'clock, mi gone. As di gas station lock."

In an attempt to highlight how bad the situation had become, Jimbo told THE STAR, "Couple months ago ... one man out ya a exercise [jog] an di man dem jus cut im dung."

He added, "You can't wait till it ketch dusk. An mi nuh carry strange people. Yu haffi can identify yu self and whe yu a go properly."

No evidence

Superintendent Anthony Morris, commanding officer for the St Andrew North Division, said while there was no evidence to suggest an increase in robberies, break-ins or abductions in the area, he was mindful of the citizens' fears.

He agreed that last Saturday's shooting had done much to instill fear in the residents, but said the police were doing all they could to reassure them.

He told THE STAR, "Communities like Havendale fall under our community roll-out programme, so in terms of visibility we are doing that." He said under this programme, the police frequently patrolled the community, both on foot and with bikes and cars.

"They move from street to street and interact with citizens, so there is an increased presence. They do this several hours per day."

He also mentioned that on "certain nights" there will be increased police activity in the area, and cited a recent roadblock carried out in the area as another strategy being used. "The patrols reassure the people and they are happy to see that type of proactive approach."

Names changed on request.


November 6, 2008

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