Villagers suspected in robbery on pastor

-wife's nose broken, children brutalised

Beaten: Pastor Roopnarine Rampersaud points to the injury on the nose of his wife Parbattie Rampersaud inflicted by bandits on Monday morning. (Jules Gibson photo)

Last week Wednesday, Pastor Roopnarine Rampersaud went to Zeelugt to counsel a family who had been robbed by bandits. On Monday, he awoke to find himself in need of similar help when seven armed men invaded his De Willem, West Coast Demerara property.

 

The 37-year-old pastor and goldsmith hid under his bed shortly after dodging a bullet while the rest of his family were slapped, cuffed and beaten on their heads with gun butts by the criminals who wore stocking masks. At the end of the ordeal $250,000, US$1,500 and a quantity of raw gold and jewellery valued at $300,000 were stolen from Rampersaud. His attache case containing some $50,000 of church funds, pastoral and other documents and a big bag were also part of the bandits' loot.

Police have since taken one man into custody and sources believe that the gang comprised men living in the area.

According to a senior police officer, from all indications some of the same men who robbed the Zeelugt family last week were part of the gang who robbed Rampersaud on Monday. The officer said ranks on the West Bank are determined to apprehend the criminals and have intensified their hunt for them.

When Stabroek News visited the man of God on Tuesday, he was busy grilling his windows while his sick wife, Parbattie Rampersaud who suffered the brunt of the criminals' attack on Monday morning was being consoled by church members and relatives.

Workmen welding the iron grill for the doors and windows of Pastor Rampersaud's home which was invaded by bandits on Monday morning. (Jules Gibson photo)

"I read about many robberies in the newspapers and saw it on the news on TV but I never know it was like this. Only when you feel you can know," the pastor who continues to thank God declared.

According to him, he, his wife and two children were in their home around 3am on Monday when he heard a strange sound coming from the outside window.

At first, the pastor said he thought it was his dogs playing and he peeped through his bedroom window to see what was happening and all seemed OK.

He told this newspaper that he returned to his bed and about two minutes after he heard the sound again. Rampersaud said he put on his pants and quietly opened his bedroom door to investigate. As he did, he saw a man with a gun raised, looking at him.

"Bandit!" the pastor shouted and slammed the door. He said a bullet followed instantly and it was only because he moved aside after closing the door that he was not hit. The bullet pierced the plywood door and flew through the window, piercing his neighbour's outer wall.

Rampersaud said he and his wife ducked under their bed and remained silent. "While we were under the bed I heard one of them shouting 'we kill one ah dem!' "

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With this, Rampersaud said, his 17-year-old daughter who was occupying another room ducked under her bed and hid. However, one of the bandits entered the room and spotted her under the bed. The young lady was grabbed by her hand and pulled from her hiding place. She was beaten with gun butts and also stripped of her gold jewellery. Leaving her face down in the hall of the house, the bandits entered her brother's room. He received one cuff to his mouth as the bandits dragged him off his bed and carried him outside. They demanded cash and jewellery from him and also asked him for the gold that his father usually sells.

Gun butt

 

The pastor said the bandits knew what business he did and also had some knowledge as to the layout of his house. While the boy was being interrogated, Rampersaud said he silently prayed asking God to spare their lives.

The younger Rampersaud took the bandits into his parents' room and showed them the wardrobe where the money and gold were stored. The money and gold were being kept in a multicompartment bag, Rampersaud explained.

He said from under the bed he noticed the bandits trying to locate the money and gold in the bag but because of their haste they did not check all the compartments. Im-patient, they began brutalising the children.

This caused his wife to emerge from under the bed and assist them in finding the money and gold.

Not grateful for her help, the bandits turned on Parbattie Rampersaud, beating her with their gun butts. In the process, the woman's nose was broken and her head was

dented with a lash. She still managed to locate the money and gold and hand them over to the bandits, who stuffed them back into the bag, grabbed the pastor's attache case which was nearby and escaped.

Rampersaud told this newspaper that a call was made to the police, who responded 30 minutes after.

He said a nearby resident had spotted the bandits before they had attacked his house and telephoned the Leonora Police Station, alerting them about the suspicious men. But the police allegedly asked them how they knew the men were bandits.

Rampersaud, who is the pastor of De Willem Nazarene Church, said the bandits have left him a pauper. He said church members pooled their resources and made a donation to him which he used to grill his windows.

The Venezuela born pastor said he did his pastoral duties as well as work as a goldsmith