Soca chutney star and local music icon, Samraj “Rikki Jai” Jaimungal, was the victim of armed robbery on Wednesday night, after band rehearsal on Wednesday night. So far, Mr Live Wire understands that Soca Monarch franchise holder, William Munro, is not considered a suspect.
“He threatened to shoot me but I begged for my life,” Jai told the Trinidad Guardian. “I told him he did not have to shoot, I will hand over the money and he showed me some mercy and only robbed me.
“I have to thank God for that.”
The incident lasted approximately three minutes before the bandit took off with Jai’s cash and cell phone. Live Wire cannot confirm that Minister Two Pull heard about the robbery and said: Amateur! My gang would have held him hostage for five years and been sure to empty his treasury!
In fact, Jai, probably miffed by the anticlimactic feel of the episode, told the Guardian that he drove after the bandit but lost sight of him near the Carib Brewery.
Was Jai hoping to convince the robber to collaborate on another crossover hit?
Live Wire is glad he didn’t catch him. Suppose the fellah’s tune of choice was: “Bang bang?”
As Organiser sang, almost three decades ago, Trinidad and Tobago is bandit country and one might as well show some respect for exponents of the art form.
Why force a bandit to have to rearrange your physiognomy or lower the resale value of your vehicle to prove his commitment to the enterprise?
If Jai ever finds himself in such an unfortunate situation again and the bandit asks if he will stay put, the correct answer is: Ent you know.
It is easy for us to think that the life of banditry is a free-for-all binge of snatching wallets, emptying bank accounts and paying millions for unfulfilled State contracts. But then the grass always looks greener from the other side.
Take, for instance, the sad tale of the late Matthew “Smeagol” Simmons, who, according to his sister Jahalia, was a former Morvant resident entrusted with a leadership role in a Belmont gang.
“There was a split in the gang he was in,” Jahalia told the Guardian, “and because he was close to one of the senior members he was placed in the leadership position.
“I think he was not liked because of the fact that he was originally from Morvant.”
Morvant residents are not good enough for executive positions in Belmont gangs?
And here we thought only primary schools, banks and Darryl Heeralal were hung up on discrimination by street address.
An eyewitness recounted Smeagol’s last stand, as a masked man—subsequently identified as Oswald Bailey—pulled in front of the former’s taxi with deadly intent.
“As Smeagol see the car pull up and the masked man come out, he jumped out of the taxi and ran up to him,” said the eyewitness. “Smeagol was shot but he still ran up to the masked gunman and began fighting with him. He managed to reach for the gun and shot the killer with his own gun.
“The masked man dropped down right on the road and as Smeagol attempted to walk away he drop down on the pavement where he died. The man get his own justice yes, because the police don’t give none.”
Right now, if you are anything like Mr Live Wire, you might be thinking: Who is this eyewitness who knew Simmons by his alias and has such radical, albeit poetic notions, of justice?
But, let’s face it, justice is a fluid term in Trinidad and Tobago.
Take Opposition Wayne Sturge’s efforts to have UDECOTT chairman Noel Garcia investigated for allegedly accepting kickbacks during his spell as HDC managing director.
Last week, Sturge sent a letter to the US Embassy and copied it to the US AG Loretta Lynch, which urged the North American nation to: use its power to make the relevant enquiries to determine whether accounts in the American financial system were used by persons included, but not limited to Mr Noel Garcia, in connection with acts of fraud, including the receipt or transfer of illegal payments, bribes or kickbacks and if so the exact nature source and disposition of those funds.
Sturge could have waited on the local Police Service and Integrity Commission. And his request was a sorry indictment on our boast of self-governance.
But then, more than two years on, the police still cannot determine what the “plant-like substance” was in former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s residence. And the Integrity Commission might still be waiting on all the right boxes to be ticked before probing TOP leader Ashworth Jack’s “pumpkin and bodi” mansion in Tobago.
The thing is the United States Department of Justice prefers to use its considerable resources to stalk big fish not wabeen.
It is often an alien concept for local law enforcement officers, who always seem to execute drugs busts when nobody is home but are much more adept at conducting arrests for soliciting or child maintenance.
Yet, wabeens do sometimes grow into big fish.
Take for example a police raid on a “vice party” at an El Dorado residence over the Father’s Day weekend in 2012.
The Northern Division Task Force, who got wind of the event through BlackBerry message adverts from promoter Anthony Smith, stormed the party at 4 am and found naked women gyrating on men and over a dozen hired “dancers.”
Police made 33 arrests, including 14 dancers and patrons who paid the admission of $200. At least two of the women were minors.
Magistrate Gail Gonzales fined dancers and patrons who pleaded guilty between $300 and $400.
Now you might be thinking: $200 admission, $400 court fine plus scantily clad gyrating women probably makes Smith’s party a more economical all-inclusive fete than most.
Or, minus the minors, how is that different to most bachelor parties?
But consider the party planner, Smith. Gonzales sentenced him to three month’s hard labour on 17 June 2012.
It would not be the last we heard of him though.
On Wednesday 6 January 2016, Smith, a married father of three and bar owner, appeared before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesars.
This time, Smith faced 21 criminal charges including causing or inciting a child into prostitution, sexually penetrating the child, common assault against the child and recruiting the child for the purpose of human trafficking.
The illicit actions were alleged to have occurred at unknown dates during the almost one-year period at various locations, including a house at Dookie Lane, Cane Farm, Arouca; Oropune Gardens, Piarco, and once at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port-of-Spain.
After the alleged antics of Roodal Moonilal, Jack Warner, Darren Millien and, now, Anthony Smith, God knows what has to happen at the Hyatt next for it to finally be put on the list of local criminal “hot spots.”
The moral of the story? Do morals survive in these parts?
But Mr Live Wire would like to encourage the police to soldier on, despite the criticism, and follow up on the suspicious characters within their database.
We can start with Jai’s robber. Let’s arrest him now before he is running a State-favoured construction firm in five years time!