17th January 2018
Why Hooliganism Transforms into Robbery in Sierra Leone Football?
By the Ranger (19/06/17)
It is worrying what started as mere hooliganism has now been transformed into a full blown robbery in the Sierra Leone football circle.
The conduct of various football leagues in the country in a bid to develop the sport in the country has now been a cause of concern to members of the public. After every match some misguided youths attack innocent citizens, robbing them of all valuable items and monies in their possession. (Pictured: SLFA boss Isha Johansen needs to nip hooliganism in the bud sooner).
It started with misguided youths attacking each other especially rival team supporters. This was not taken seriously by residents in the city because it was mainly confined to the respective club supporters. The police on such occasions were able to disperse the crowd. Today this situation has worsened.
Some youths have now transformed themselves into gangs with the main aim of stealing from the public. It is now the normal practice that after every football match, these youths as they return to their various homes/bases wreak havoc on innocent citizens.
Even people in vehicles and transports are not spared. These youths force open every door of every vehicle they meet on the way and with the use of knives, force the passengers on board to part with whatever valuables they have including phones, chains and laptop computers.
Like wild bees, they often descend on the innocent and unsuspecting public wielding knives and making all sorts of demands on them. During those trying moments the police has not been around to bring those youths to order. In some cases area boys mobilise to confront them with sticks.
The most recent incident was after the local match between the Foullah Town FC and Mountain City FC when these criminals attacked people returning home from work or their business places and snatched variety of items including money.
When the police arrived, Savage Street, Dundas Street, West Street were already battle grounds. Rival supporters engaged each other in street fight. The police in their bid to disperse them fired tear gas at them. An exchange of stones against tear gas ensued.
It is clear that those who reacted to the police action were the criminals who saw the actions of the police as an attempt to frustrate their diabolical plans. Whilst the effort of the police is applauded and appreciated, there is the need to do more.
Firstly, they should hold the clubs responsible for all such actions by their supporters. This will in turn cause them to rein in on them and by extension create awareness that in the event of any misbehaviour by their supporters they will be held responsible. This will also cause them to be vigilant and on the lookout for these criminals.
Secondly, the organisers of the match should also be held responsible. This thing has been going on for quite some long time at the Parade Grounds and they are au fait with what normally transpires later. They can pressure the clubs and assist in the arrest of the perpetrators of those crimes.
Thirdly, the police should be stationed along the main routes that they use to return to their bases after matches. It remains to be seen whether government will provide the needed resources to facilitate police presence in disturbed areas.
Minister of Internal Affairs Rtd. Maj. Palo Conteh, known for his no nonsense stance, is being called upon to intervene and put a stop to this menace which is fast developing into a national concern. It is these same youths that are responsible for all the stabbings and attacks on people during public holidays.
If something is not done fast, this kind of behaviour will lead to something else. What is being termed as mob justice, in the recent attacks on the Mercury Outlet at Wellington, is an example of a deteriorating situation where the people see their lives being put under threat and they have no one to defend them.
It is not wrong for the police to use guns to put things under control. There are areas of the body which can be shot and which will not pose threats to the lives of the victims. They can be shot in the foot and this will curtail their movement. The victim can be treated from such gunshot wounds and also be apprehended to face trial.
It should be noted that those carrying knives and other weapons have the intention to use it to achieve their goal, even if it results in the death of their victims, thus they should be treated on the basis of the ‘mens rea’ (the intention).
Most often the police are being castigated for killing those criminals; it is high time they use this method. Whenever their lives are in danger in the course of their duty, they should aim at the feet of the perpetrators. Thus the victims will not die but will be demobilised for a while and after treatment, will be available for trial and subsequent punishment.