Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Stealing For A Living 

By Rolantine Nwanjang*

It could be safely said that robbery in Cameroon, has been elevated to the state of an art.
This is going by the high rate at which highly placed civil servants are looting the treasury on the one hand and night marauders are breaking and entering. Despite the rather selective arrests of certain top government brass suspected of stealing public funds; despite the long detentions without trial of armed robbery suspects and in spite of the resort by the populations to lynching robbery suspects, the business of stealing still thrives in the country.

Most bandits always end up this way

The Post traced the high incidence of robberies, whether of the public treasury by white collar thieves, or of highwaymen who often go to work when decent people are asleep, to factors like poverty, unemployment, laziness and a general lack of conscience.  The fact that highly placed individuals who once served in coveted offices in this country are languishing in jail, hasn’t quite deterred others, after them, from dipping their hands in the public till, speaks volumes of the seriousness of the problem.

Observers feel that they have, inadvertently, inaugurated a get-rich-by-any-means culture, which the youth are copying without looking behind. Many of them want to live in big mansions, ride posh cars, drink choice wines and generally belong to the league of the rich… without breaking a sweat.

Second grade police officer, Godlove Nyincho, whom the Commissioner of Judicial Police, Peter Adjoffoin Diangha, assigned to talk to The Post, said that youth who are highly involved in robbery are especially those within the age bracket of 18-25. Police statistics of January to July 2009 that were made available to The Post show simple theft as most common robbery matters with a total number of 304 entries. According to Nyincho, the youths especially, rob because they want fast money without straining themselves. Unemployment, he pointed out, contributes so much to robbery.

Nyincho added that overpopulation comes along with robbery due to the fact that many are those who aim for certain high standards in life, leading them to rob, since government cannot provide enough jobs for everyone. With all these, there are bound to be rampant robbery cases. A student of the University of Buea, UB, Ernest Nji, blames robbery on poverty. To him, most youth don’t rob because they like it, but rather as an alternative to earn a living.

To Nji, laziness also pushes youth into robbery. Scammers, he noted, rob on account of laziness. "Some scammers are graduates; others are still in the university, but because of laziness, which they attach to unemployment, they tend to rob, since they don’t want to work," Nji noted, adding that poor religious background is not left out as, when there is a lack of the fear of God, one easily commits crime.

A businessman, Frederick Doh, holds that lack of concept and organisational planning on the part of the government gives room for robbery. To him, government has not done enough to sensitise youth on societal issues. "Some youth have the potential, but they lack who to direct them on the kind of job they should be doing. With this situation, robbery is inevitable, since the tendency is for many youth to use any available means".

He noted that high tax and robbery is the only problem he is facing in the running of his business but that despite these obstacles, he still copes. Consequently, he sees no reason why others cannot make ends meet without necessarily resorting to robbery. According to a young phone dealer Regan Nchaurba, his business is the most important thing because it helps him to overcome any hardships.

"Rather than sitting idle, I prefer to engage myself in business, since the government cannot offer jobs to every individual citizen. So, robbery is not part of my agenda". Nchaurba said that since he started his business with the help of his parents, he has been robbed twice. High taxes and robberies, he said, are some of the biggest problems he is facing.

A cop, Alain Fotso, told The Post that, the police face some problems in arresting robbers. According to him, some robbers don’t just go robbing without protection.  "Some have herbs, which enable them to disappear. Others don’t feel pains when they are beaten". To him, it is difficult for the police to handle paranormal cases, since policemen are not witchdoctors.
Fotso added that, some use better weapons than the police have, adding that cops also get harassed right at their station by certain daring robbers.

Even though the government is trying to create jobs for the population, he noted, unemployment still persists and is the greatest cause of robbery. Also, some robbers are born. He said police treat robbers harshly, depending of course, on the crime, since the person who steals phones is not to be treated the same way as the one who robbed a bank. In any case, he added, everyday robbers increase in number.

(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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