THE latest casualty in the ongoing gang war in east Port of Spain is that of a garbage collector who, while doing his job on Wednesday morning, was chased and gunned down along Laventille Road. The "crime" for which he paid with his life? Being in the wrong zone.
Police said Nizam Ali Cadette, 32, was collecting bags of garbage from bins along Laventille Road when at 7.35 am, two gunmen ran out of Lovell Place and shot him.
Cadette tried to run but collapsed as he was shot multiple times.
The garbage truck driver panicked as he saw what was going on in the rear-view mirror and drove off. Residents who heard the gunshots called the police and remained in their homes, too afraid to come out to assist Cadette.
Members of the Port of Spain Task Force later took a semi-conscious Cadette to the Port of Spain General Hospital where he died while being treated.
When Newsday visited Cadette's neighbourhood in Bath Street, east Port of Spain, friends and co-workers all said the same thing – crime and lawlessness are clearly out of hand when a garbage man could meet a violent, bloody end by simply doing his job.
Not one resident was willing to give his or her name, although all were willing to talk.
A resident said that people living on Bath Street know they cannot under any circumstances go to certain neighbouring communities and people in those communities know better than coming into Bath Street.
Why? Because of trigger-happy gangsters intent on protecting turf from rivals.
"There are areas which are off-limits, due to an ongoing war between rival gangs," the resident said. He said the unwritten rule of avoiding known "no-go" zones held not only for gangsters but also for ordinary citizens.
"ANYBODY CAN GET IT"
"At this point anybody can get it. We tried warning Nizam about this several times but he would brush off our warnings saying he would be all right since all could see he was doing his work collecting garbage and wasn't involved in anything.
"Up to this morning again, we warned him as he was going out to work. We warned him that it wasn't safe to go outside of his zone even if it was to pick up garbage. But he went ahead and look what happened."
Residents said despite battling with drug addiction years ago, Cadette cleaned up his act and worked hard to get his life together beginning with doing small jobs in the area and becoming a plumber.
They said he worked as a garbage man on a part-time basis and lamented that the day he was murdered was his last day as a garbage collector, since he was expected to start a new job on Thursday as a construction worker.
Another resident suggested that police escorts are needed for garbage trucks as is done for workers in TTEC, WASA and the telephone services who have armed escort whenever they need to visit east Port of Spain, Laventille and Morvant to effect repairs.
Even bakery delivery vans and cooking gas delivery vans either have police escort or use private security, Newsday was told.
"In the past, you would have heard of TTEC workers being robbed or killed and even bread van salespeople being killed but now we reach to garbage collectors?"
Senior police sources in Port of Spain Division confirmed the residents' claim that gangsters have created zones where violence and death awaits anyone crossing into the wrong zone. Sources said police escort service is being provided for some sanitation companies but not all.
"It's a valid concern. There are exceptions where gang members from one community would be on good terms with someone from another and that person would have no problems," a police source said.
"We realise that women also don't get any problems walking through one community into another, but if (gangsters) they don't recognise you as you enter their zone...doing so isn't advised.
"We have police escorts for some sanitation companies but there may be others who need to apply for such escorts but we haven't been approached by them as yet."
The police source said that for residents of Bath Street, "no-go zones" include Leau Place, Quarry Street, Rose Hill and Lovell Place. And the same goes for people in these four areas – don't go into Bath Street.
Police in the Inter Agency Task Force said they would be increasing patrols and initiating other anti-crime exercises in these areas by working in collaboration with police from the Port of Spain Division, the Guard and Emergency Branch (GEB) and the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), beginning from Wednesday evening.
CEO of Barth-Baz Sanitation Company Ltd, Pete Noray, said he was deeply saddened when he heard that his employee Cadette was killed. He is seriously considering having police escorts for his garbage trucks and workers.
He said these safety concerns would be addressed at an emergency meeting with workers scheduled for Thursday morning. He condemned Cadette's killing, describing it as "senseless."
"There are no words for something like this. I'm distraught. I cried for two hours after hearing the news. I don't understand what all of this is about. How can you kill someone who is doing an honest job and then say it was because he lived in a different area?
"This emergency meeting will be with the Port of Spain City Police to discuss whether they can be there with the garbage disposal contractors. I've been doing this for nine years and I've never seen anything like this, where someone can get killed because of where they lived.
"I cannot go on work without the police. That's how I feel. We need the police." Noray said the driver who was with Cadette was left badly shaken.
He said his company works under the Port of Spain City Corporation and operates on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Up to press time, no one was held for Cadette's murder. Between Friday and Wednesday, at least 12 murders were committed in the country.
Keith Phillip, 48, and Callisha Hazel Edgar, 38: shot dead in a car on the Southern Main Road in Curepe on Friday.
Andrew Phillip: shot dead in a pick-up truck on St John's Road, St Augustine on Saturday.
Rico Pavy, 29: shot dead at Daisy Lane, La Horquetta on Saturday.
Kevon Prescott, 35: shot dead at Petra Crescent, La Horquetta on Sunday.
Shaquille Pereira, 25: shot dead in Arima on Monday.
Vaughn Charles, 68, and Josiah Copeland, 19: shot dead in Tunapuna on Monday.
Keshan Ramlogan, 31: shot dead in Pinto Road, Arima on Tuesday.
Triston Robertson, 23: shot dead in Cocorite on Tuesday.
Jamal Goodridge, 39: shot dead in Port of Spain on Wednesday.
Nizam Ali Cadette, 32: shot dead in Port of Spain on Wednesday.