|Ya Binta Jarju|
Last Saturday, Ya Binta asked a friend to accompany her to to buy pizza at the Palma Rima Hotel located in the Kotu/Manjai which is part of the Tourism Development Area (TDA) complex. They hired a taxi - town trip - to the pizza joint. It was around 10:00 PM.
Under normal circumstances, the TDA would have been the safest parts of The Gambia because they are heavily patrolled by all branches of the security forces. The opposite is the case because the regime is extremely shaky and insecure after the 30 December events. A disoriented and nervous military is the result of that insecurity. Equally nervous and disoriented are other segments of the security establishment.
The proliferation of checkpoints after the December events, according to eyewitness reports, is such that there is a military checkpoint for every 500 meters - a constant complaint of European tourists who describe the TDA to a city under siege.
After buying pizza, Ya Binta and her friend were on their way home when what was to be an uneventful day turn into a nightmare for her and her companion. They met up with what was described to me as "a patrol 'bulldozer' pickup".
Both passengers at this point were in the back seat when the driver said to Ya Binta and her companion that he was going to be in trouble with the "bulldozer" military patrol because "he was not wearing a seat belt". It is highly likely that the vehicle did not have one. The penalty for not wearing a seat belt is D 1,000 which must be paid on the spot or go to jail.
The taxi driver then decided to evade the security. Obviously in a panic mode, the taxi decided not to stop. Ya Binta's companion decided to jump from the back seat to the front seat in an attempt to take control of the vehicle so that he could stop after the taxi driver had made a u-turn to escape the military that was in pursuit. Taking partial control of the steering, Ya Binta's companion finally succeeded in ramming the vehicle into a brick wall.
The patrol vehicle carrying fully-armed men was "less than 10 meters" from the taxi, according to our source. The distraught source concluded that,"there was no need to fire a single bullet" but instead "they shot the cabin (of the taxi) and killed Ya Binta Jarju. Her companion escaped sure death only because he earlier decision to the front seat to help bring the vehicle to a stop, the source said.
These "bulldozer patrols" do not man checkpoints. They resemble more like the marauding terrorists in Mogadishu in 'technicals' or pick-ups with mounted heavy guns, wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting and unarmed civilian population. This kind of lawlessness in the midst of the busiest part of The Gambia has cost the life of a promising, responsible, young lady. These marauding bandits continue to terrorize a traumatized population at the encouragement of the Gambian dictator Jammeh who has said his forces "should shoot and ask questions later."
When the victim's family arrived at the Kairaba Police State on Pipe Line Road they were visibly furious and are demanding answers from the police and higher authorities.
Apparently, while the military were in hot pursuit, some police officers were also in the pick up as part of the "bulldozer"crew. We also learned from other sources that the police sense trouble, gauging from the reaction of the family and friends of Ya Binta Jarju.
The police, according to sources close to the investigations, denied firing a single shot at the taxi. According to them, all of the shots came from the military "bulldozers" team and not from them, the police.
To the family and friends of Ya Binta Jarju, all that matters is that justice is done which is a tall order considering the nature of military dictatorial.