10 January 2013

Gambia: Mob Justice By Women Fish Vendors

One Mr. Ebrima Jallow, a fish vendor at the Serekunda market suffers mob justice in the hands of a group of women fish vendors at the Brusubi roundabout in the early hours of Wednesday,09th January 2013, over a pan of fish.

The young man boarded a taxi van from Tangi fishing point heading for Serekunda.

As the van stopped near the taxi garage to pick some passengers, a middle aged woman came after the car and told the driver not to move. She shouted: "I want this black pan down, I want it down."

This brought a lot of murmuring from the vehicle by passengers. The woman screamed", my fish! My fish! Who put this over the carrier?"

A young man came out from the van and asked which pan the woman was referring to. "It belongs to me", The other woman from the other van the "banabanas", Shouted: "Thief! Thief! You stole this pan from Tangi, you men, you are fond of stealing women's fish. This pan must come down", the woman insisted.

The driver asked the young man where he got the fish and pan from, the man said he bought it from his client. The young man said the woman is mistaken; that the pan belonged to him and the lady was just accusing him for nothing. The young man laughed and said the woman could not recognize her container.

But the women were not convinced and they kept on pointing accusing fingers at him. "You are a thief, this fish will not move from here", shouted the man. "As they continued shouting at the man, all of a sudden, they jumped on him and started to pounce on him from all angles. The man was also seen defending the blows which eventually led to a brawl.

A soldier came to control the crowd and sent some onlookers away who firmly held the man by his shirt collar and asked: "What are you doing here, fighting with women over a pan of fish. Who owns the fish?" asked the soldier. The man insisted that it belongs to him. As the man tried to rush towards the women the solider asked the man to be careful and threatened to hit him if he did not calm down.

The young man insisted:"I will not allow these women to take my fish; it belongs to me. I bought it with my own money", said the young man. The soldier who was putting on a camouflage belt, but in jeans and white t-shirt, insisted that both the young man and the woman go with him to the police together with their witnesses.

As they moved for some metres, two police officers at the traffic were alerted by the commotion and they came over to intervene. They asked both the woman Hoja and Ebrima as to what transpired, both narrated their side of the story. The man said he has proposed that all of them go to Tange and inquire from where they bought the fish so that they would know who owned the fish. The man said that trip was his second trip. He said he came earlier and sold that pan of fish and returned for the second time.

The woman said that the pan and fish belongs to her; "I can recognise my container", She insisted. She was supported by the women group, "yes, the container is hers", they wailed.

The Mobile traffic officers after hearing both sides said there was an independent witness who said the container belonged to the man; that the Independent witness said he even knew the man and the place he bought the fish.

The solider interjected and suggested that they should go to police. He introduced himself to the police officer and told him that he intervened and separated the women and the man.

"The reason I came to you is that I am a security officer, but I am half dressed, you are in full uniform. But the way you are seeing things is different, they should go to the station", said the officer. The mobile traffic officer responded that the reason why they are calling for community policing is that when such things happen, they should sit and solve things amicably. "It does not mean that every little thing people have should be reported to the police station. If you take these people to the station, their time will be wasted and all their fish will get rotten. The police decided that the young man was the owner and the woman did not raise any objection.

The young man started shedding tears and said: "You should take these women to police for beating me. They did not own the fish, they know that fish is scarce so they want to unlawfully take my fish from me", Complained the young man.

The crowd began to sympathise with the young man who was asked to forgive and forget. There was general murmuring in disbelief.

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