Cops and Robbers

President Mahama meets with security chiefs

Our social calendar was nearly affected by a cop and robber show reminiscent of the Wild West, complete with a story about corpses laid out in front of the police station for viewing.

“The display of the bodies of the three men at the forecourt of the Buffalo Unit of the police, attracted a large number of people.”

It all began with a heavily reported dust up in Kumasi last Tuesday when a group of armed men on motorcycles terrorized shop keepers and commuters just after sun down at a busy intersection. According to one typically exaggerated news story:

“About 30 to 50 half-naked gunmen, some on foot and others on motorbikes fired several warning shots using AK-47 and pump action guns as they laid siege on the helpless residents.

The Hollywood-style action left many vehicles damaged as motorists crashed into each other in their attempt to escape the onslaught which took place at about 7 p.m. Horrified residents were also locked up in their homes for safety.”

Good citizens panicked:

“A traumatized resident, named Maame Birago told Nhyira News she nearly collapsed upon seeing the armed men.

“I was going to the salon to re-touch my hair [and] all of a sudden I heard gun shots and a lot of people were running, they were many, some of them were wearing boxer shorts so I also decided to run for my life and that of my child”.

“I nearly collapsed. I even fell on the floor so I just got up and run for my life,” Maame Birago narrated.”

President Mahama called a meeting with security chiefs on Thursday. Reinforcements were discussed and the president “called on Ghanaians to go about their daily activities without fear, since the country is in safe hands.”

Nana and Grandpa (on the right) with a friend circa 1919

Reading these stories and their associated comments led Bob to believe that the robber swoop on Tuesday was a staged ploy to justify increased police funding. We read that the gunmen were using police issue weapons to frighten the public. We also read that the police had recently arrested 150 robbers, inciting a horrific backlash from the nefarious bands of robbers. The massive arrest didn’t pass the sniff test. Most robberies are furtive and opportunist affairs leaving little to no evidence. We doubted the local police had the intelligence to track over a hundred petty criminals and coordinate their arrest. The more we read, the more this cop and robber show resembled a dog and pony show. A circus designed to frighten the public and benefit the police.

In January, our friend Andreas was robbed at gun point outside his gate. He suspects it was an inside job, arranged with help from his former night watchman who had disappeared several weeks before the attack. When Andreas went to the police, just hours after the incident and with a full description of the robber and information regarding his location, the police held out their hands for ‘dash.’ Andreas was incensed and refused to pay them extra to do their  job. The police relented and sent an officer to Andreas’ home who promptly stepped out of his car, hand extended. Again, Andreas declined to pay and so nothing was done.

It occurs to me that this kind of frontier justice is of the same type found in the United States in the early 1900’s. We’ve heard many stories of crime, corruption and collusion between the Mafia and the Police in the big American cities during that era. Were my Nana and Grandpa who lived in New York City during those heady years still alive, I’m sure they could support my theory with their own experiences.

On Thursday, online news stories reported a repeat of Tuesday’s mahem in another part of town on Wednesday evening at dusk. By Friday word-of-mouth rumors circulated among residents about a third attack on Thursday. Based on these stories, our friends, Kat and Agye pondered whether or not to come out visiting on Saturday. They considered preparing a dummy bag with nothing of value to hand over to the robbers. We fluffed up the pillows in the guest bedroom should they decide to spend the night at Casa Kumasi.

In the end, our dear friends came, bearing food and no dummy bag or overnight kits. We ate, sipped Gin Zingers, Agye and Jeremy teamed up and won at Trivial Pursuit and Kat and Agye returned home without incident. Oh, Kumasi – will you ever fail to thrill and entertain?


By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.