MAD THURSDAY MORNING IN ACCRA

i Just found this piece I wrote on November 1, 2012. There’s an update to it at the bottom dated 22 August, 2013.

“I’d just arrived on the Osu, Oxford Street junction that has the Barclays Bank and saw a crowd on both sides of the road looking, shouting and pointing in the direction of the Woodin fabrics shop down the road.

Curious, i turned in the direction too and parked opposite the bank. It turned out a robber had shot at a worker in the forex bureau opposite the bank and made off down the road. As I parked the shot worker was being brought down stairs, hand clutching his head, a bit bloodied and muttering gratitude to Jesus.

It was chaotic, no one knew what to do—go chasing the thief? Give first aid to the bleeding forex bureau man? Was he shot fatally? Why was he clutching tight onto a gun? Too many questions, something had to be done and fast!! I opened the car, asked him and a helper to jump in and begun to back out to speed to the police hospital. Still he held onto the gun.

Just as we took off, the robber had been caught and dragged back to the bureau by a mob. They set on him with stones, belts, fufu pestles ( i have no idea where that pestle came from). Some one shouted ‘lets take him to the police’; another person retorted ‘no, we must finish him now, the police will let him go’. I was horrified. I had to do something to stop them but i had a bleeding passenger close to derision holding a gun on my back seat. The situation was fluid. We had to go!

Horn blaring, hazard lights on, we got the victim to the hospital OPD in minutes. On our way, the forex bureau guy explains he ducked when the robber shot at him and banged his head against the wall. He was in shock, didn’t think he had been hit but wasn’t sure why he was bleeding. Well we dropped him off at hospital and I dashed next door to the Cantonments Police Station to report a lynching was underway. Police officers at the desk calmly looked back me make my case. One slowly ate her waakye from a plastic bag with disinterest as I screamed ‘there’s been a robbery and a shooting, the suspect is being lynched, can you send officers to deal with it?’. The other asks” ‘who are you?’ I reply and she says ‘oh go and talk to station officer, as for this one it is not our jurisdiction. It is Osu police station, you have to go dere’.

At this point, I’m close to passing out in shock. The lynching is happening barely a 2 minute drive away. The Osu police station is a 10 minute (or more) drive off!!! Anyway i’m eventually sent to the station commander’s office.

He quickly jumps up: do you have a car?

‘Yes’ says me.

‘OK, you have to go to Osu station now’ he says; he calls the crime officer in Osu and says ‘im sending somebody to you now, there’s a case in your jurisdiction’.

Sigh…I have to go to Osu. I pray the mob will review its intentions for the suspect.

Horns …hazard lights on. Hit the accelerator, there’s traffic. Rev into the middle of the road to the annoyance of other drivers in rush hour traffic, its a mad 15 minute drive to Osu to see Mr. Crime Officer.

Three officers are ordered to go back with me to the hospital to get the robbery weapon. That is done.

All of this has happened in an hour. I have work to do so I give the police my card. “Call me if you need me”, I say and walk off.

Behind me I hear them say ” ei!! 3y3 onua?” ( is that him?).

I don’t care, my job is done. Do your bit Messers Police officers.

What a start to Thursday morning. Back to work now.”

I’m almost certain anyone living in any of Africa’s cities can relate?

Do share your own experiences of encounters with public officials. It doesn’t have to be as dire as this. Positive encounters too are welcome.

UPDATE 22nd August 2013

By the way Robert Asiedu the forex bureau chap is well. The robber, 26- year old Salu Abu, was prosecuted and currently serving a 45 year jail term. He was convicted for attempted robbery and possession of firearms without authority contrary to section 192 of act 29/50. A co-conspirator who fled the mob is at large.

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