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A vicious attack on an elderly man in the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga, by a mob who reportedly mistook him for a thief has left the old man unconscious.
Believed to be in his late 50s and described as one who is mentally ill but easy-going, the old man was attacked Saturday at Yikene, a suburb of the regional capital. Eyewitnesses, who mentioned his name as Robert Aduko, said he was a poor farmer and that he had no thievery record in that community.
But he was beaten until he fell down not showing any sign of breathing amid claims by the mob that he was caught with a packet of roofing nails he reportedly took from a construction site inside a private compound. The gang soaked his collapsed body in bitumen and was about to set fire to it when some residents rushed to his defence and rescue.
Despite pleas from his deliverers, his attackers were bent on striking a matchstick on his body. The mob only released the body and fled when they saw a police vehicle whizzing towards the scene.
A crowd gathered in front of that compound where the attack reportedly took place. Bitumen dripped freely from his body as members of the community lifted him towards the Upper East Regional Hospital. Armed police officers stormed the compound in search of the attackers but only managed to arrest the watchman in charge of that property.
“This man is from our area. He is not mentally sound but he doesn’t disturb anybody. His mental illness only comes when his drugs are finished. Hardly can he walk. We heard they were beating him and they were about to lynch him. We saw his body covered with coal tar (bitumen) lying in front of this house and followed the traces of the coal tar into the compound.
“What they (the mob) were trying to say was that he was a thief and that people had been coming into the compound to steal materials. The workers here (in the compound) were not involved in the attack. Those who did it scaled the walls and ran away,” Zakari Awudu, a member of the community, told Starr News.
Another person arrested in connection with attack
Starr News also has gathered that another person believed to have taken part in the mob attack has joined the watchman in police cells. Police hunt is still underway for the rest of the alleged attackers.
“I even called the police to come. Where he was lying down was where they beat him and poured the dirty oil on him. After that, he was found in another place, in front of a local house not far from where they beat him. They beat him, poured the oil on him and sent him to that local house to kill. The occupants of that local house were not comfortable with it because people would think they were the people who committed the crime. The body was again found where the beating started.
“The watchman admitted that they committed the crime. I was with the police at the scene. We picked the watchman yesterday. Today (Sunday) we picked the second person. I’m worried. At least, if there is an issue, there are authorities. You should find out first about the identity of the person before you take any decision. I was able to control the community members and the attackers yesterday; if not, something different would have happened,” said the Assemblyman for Yikene, Issaka Nsoh.
Public and Police shocked at reason for the Mob Attack
Some residents have expressed utter dismay at an attempt to take the life of a mentally ill old man over “a packet of roofing nails” even if there was evidence he stole it.
Those residents are not alone in their shock. The police also have conveyed the same sentiment to the general public.
“Even if the man is a thief, that he went and stole a packet of nails which is not even up to Gh¢30 or let’s say Gh¢50, it doesn’t make sense to want to attack him. Just bring him to the police station, granted that he even stole. They were about to set him ablaze when we got there.
“We don’t subscribe to such things. It is totally wrong to take the law into your own hands. If you suspect anything, just bring the person to the police station for the law to take its course. We are all human beings. One day, we will all account to our Maker. We should be each other’s keeper,” the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Commander, Superintendent Samuel Punobyin, stressed in a telephone interview with Starr News.