His departure is set for Monday, December 5, to the chagrin of the local police. When the government announced the dispatch of the Raid to Mayotte to try to stem the infernal spiral of violence which shook the French department of the Indian Ocean in mid-November, the most violent gangs withdrew, dispersed. Leaving the population stunned by an unprecedented calm.
However, in Vahibé, a small deprived village wedged between two hillsides on the borders of the capital Mamoudzou, the police have been busy since Friday, when local police went to a shantytown in sheet metal to arrest individuals suspected of being “highway robbers”, violently extorting motorists. Results of the operation: hours of confrontation between young people and the police, two suspects arrested and an entire village caught in the crossfire.
On Monday, another operation was carried out jointly in Vahibé by the territorial management of the national police (DTPN, bringing together the national police and the border police) and the Raid. But the surprise effect is impossible: a single road provides access to the village from Mamoudzou. So when locals spot the convoy of 4X4s and white vans, they pull out the phones to warn undocumented people that an “LIC (fight against illegal immigration) operation” is underway.
Pebbles against rubber
When the convoy parks at the foot of the slum of Vahibé, there are already not many people left to challenge. Thirty police officers spread the field. There is the Raid, as well as the GAO, a special unit of the border police, comparable to the BAC and recognizable by the black T-shirts marked with a cheetah that its members wear.
While the police arrest three men in an irregular situation – the only ones in the operation – under the eyes of the children, the young people prepare the response. “Look, they are there, there and there,” says Omar, perched on a roof overlooking the entire valley of bush and sheet metal, watching the show, like the whole village. The first stones rain from small groups of young people scattered on the hill. Very mobile, they communicate with each other in shimaoré, but insult the police in French. Which respond by plunging the shantytown into a thick smoke of tear gas. In this saturated air, cries, the sound of stones, weapons.
” You heard ? That’s not as usual, ”comments Nasri, a high school student, as several shots ring out. The men of the Raid, in combat gear, indeed drew their shotguns and their rubber cartridges against the young torsos and bare feet. This does not seem to discourage them. “At the same time I understand them, it’s not good what the police do, in addition they often leave the children alone here. On the other hand, we are fed up with delinquents, there is violence all the time and we can not do anything, not even go to school, they should be arrested, ”says the high school student, for whom “That will never change”.
For several weeks and the assault of a stoned school bus driver in the village, the students of Vahibé can no longer go to college or high school, as in a large northern part of the island. This can partly explain the relative calm that has set in: young people from rival villages in areas under tension hardly ever meet.
The presence of the Raid also seems to be a deterrent. “We would like them to stay, it’s a relief to have them with us, but Paris refuses, so they will leave on Monday”, explains Abdel Aziz Sakhi, zonal secretary Alternative police CFDT. “Knowing the young people, it will be a party when they are gone, it will resume for sure,” he believes.
The Minister of the Interior and Overseas, Gérald Darmanin is expected at the end of December to see the evolution of the security situation on the island where 72 mobile gendarmes are expected.