Laden avocado trees sit on the periphery of Gangadeen Trace, Carapo, a short distance from the river where five men were killed on August 21.
For the handful of residents there, the untouched trees are a symbol of the innocence and of their street, one where not even praedial larceny was a major concern for most.
That innocence has now been shattered by a barrage of gunshots.
“Since the murders it really shake me up, I won’t lie. I can’t sleep and I only hearing gunshots in my head. It really really hard,” one woman who asked not to be identified said to Guardian Media.
Every resident along Gangadeen Trace heard the bullets and the screams of the relatives of Ryan Sookraj, Radesh Pooran, Russel Poon, Jimmy Poon and Avinash Sookraj.
“Any little thing frightening me now, my neighbour come last night, and I didn’t know, and she come straight up to my door and knocked, and I get so frighten, that never happen before,” Jankie Seecharan said.
Speculation is rife in the community regarding the motive for the killings. Some told Guardian Media that the five men were “good boys from good families” who would hunt, so they thought nothing at first when they heard the gunshots. Others said one or two members of the group were involved in nefarious activities.
Several other residents told Guardian Media that while ‘Carapo proper’ is known for murders and robberies, Gangadeen Trace is alien to such a life. However, it’s not the utopia some claim it to be.
“People very racist around here,” a woman told Guardian Media from her veranda.
In fact, when conducting interviews about crime, some couldn’t help venting their frustrations with their neighbours.
“You see them next door, they are renters and boy if I tell you,” another woman shouted to Guardian Media while refusing to tell us more.
But while there are disagreements in the Trace, they are unanimous in the belief that the youth in the area must be given more opportunities to keep them occupied and away from crime.
“We need to do something about the young ones in the community, learn a trade, do electrical, gardening, something at least,” Sharmilla Ali-John told Guardian Media while walking with her baby in tow. When asked how she’s coping with the recent murders Ali-John said she just walks and says her prayers.
Sixteen kilometres away in St John Trace, James Hernandez sat outside a parlour, clearly annoyed with Guardian Media for asking if the area has developed a reputation for crime and if that has been exacerbated since the murders of eight residents on July 14.
“You asking if people see this as a crime area now? And all of us sitting down here 24 hours a day and nobody come in here and make we put our hands up. Why people insisting that St John Trace is a crime area, where they getting that information from? Everywhere have crime!”
But while people there say they are not too sure what led to the murders, they did admit it cast a dark shadow over the community.
“The place heavy for a whole month now, yea it had a darkness around the place, people weren’t feeling safe to a degree,” Kirk Hernandez said.
Hernandez said the murders in Carapo jolted memories of July 14, but he shook his head and said, “same old same old, I just say, here we go again.”
But like in Carapo they too are begging for programmes to help develop younger residents.
“Employment, employment, employment and we have no facilities here, if we don’t go up Mt St Benedict in the field, we have nothing, it has a community centre and they gave it to the army and Air Guard,” James Hernandez said.
“What you all here for,” a barebacked youth with the tattoo ‘Thug Life’ emblazoned on his stomach shouted after Guardian Media. Mobile phone in hand he said “it have a man want to ask what you all doing up here.”
We weren’t interested in speaking with the gentleman on the phone, but we did have some questions for the person in front of us.
“Nobody isn’t really working in the trace. During the day we looking for hustle picking up old iron but right now nothing ain’t going on. I feel bad about that.”
A 40-minute drive separates both communities. Carapo is known for its racetracks, St John for its churches. Yet the grim commonality of murder now unites them as both communities are shaken, and although they describe the incidents as ‘isolated’ they’re hoping it does not become their new normal.