CAIRO: The brother of the subject of a recent documentary highlighting alternative lifestyles of Sudanese gang culture in Egypt, was left fighting for his life in hospital last week following a brutal attack by gang members.
Raymon Justin, 19, was walking home in Maadi after a wedding on the night of July 6, when he was followed by eight men carrying machetes. Realizing he was being pursued, he appealed to a group of men sitting outside a dry cleaner’s for help.
Although he took shelter in the empty shop, the group sitting outside did not try to prevent the gang from entering.
“I believe that had the Egyptian men who were sitting outside threatened the group with the police, or even tried to protect me, they would not have attacked, Raymon told Daily News Egypt.
The aggressors, who Raymon recognized as members of the Ein Shams gang ‘The Outlaws’, assaulted him using knives and a machete, before leaving him for dead inside the shop. The gang inflicted numerous injuries on their victim, the most shocking being the mutilation of his right hand, which they severed in half.
When the gang members left, the Egyptian bystanders entered the shop, but did not call the police, he says.
“They dragged me outside by my T-shirt. I begged them to call my brother, which they did. After that it took them about an hour to realize that if they didn’t call an ambulance, they would be left with a dead body on their hands.
Raymon, who soon fell into a three-day coma, required emergency treatment. But his ordeal was not immediately alleviated by the arrival of an ambulance.
He was first taken to the Maadi Mabarra hospital clinic, where he received first aid. But his brother was told that he needed to receive critical care beyond the hospital’s means.
He was then transferred to Al-Qasr Al-Aini, where he was given vital blood transfusions. Yet he was told that necessary operations could not be carried out due to lack of staff.
“It was 7 am and the staff told me that the plastic surgeon would be in the operation room all day. They told me the only way to save my brother would be to take him to a private hospital, Reagan told Daily News Egypt.
“I also had to pay LE 200 to get an ambulance to drive him to the next hospital. Everywhere we went we were looked on as foreigners, and had to pay bribes, even to get a bed in a government hospital, he added.
In Egypt, laws give Sudanese nationals special privileges over other foreign residents.
However, on transferal to the French Hospital, the private part of the Al-Qasr Al-Aini Hospital, the brothers were faced with having to pay a LE 5,000 deposit. Being unable to pay, Raymon was denied treatment.
Raymon was then transferred to the Coptic Hospital in Abbaseya, but his brother was told by staff that the senior doctors qualified to carry out the surgery, were all absent, and those present were students.
Reaching crisis point, Raymon’s brother decided to take him back to Al-Qasr Al-Aini. At first, the hospital staff refused to sign Raymon back in but after negotiations with Reagan’s Egyptian boss, Leila Al-Habibi, he was given permission to re-enter the hospital. He finally received emergency treatment, a full day after his initial injuries.
The South Sudanese embassy, despite assuring Reagan assistance, also failed to come to the brothers’ aid.
“I went to see the embassy when I realized we would have to cover the costs of a private hospital, said Reagan. “They promised financial assistance, but they failed to follow this through. I also requested they bring his attackers, whose identities we know, to justice. This is something they could easily do, but won’t.
Raymon’s brother suffered a knife attack earlier this year after participating in a documentary about his theater group VIP. The short film featured interviews which Reagan and his colleagues, who, among other topics, spoke about the destructive effect of gang life on Sudanese youths living in Egypt.
The brothers also suffered reprisals when gang members broke into their home, stealing most of their belongings before laying waste to the apartment.
Although Reagan has no previous involvement with the rival Sudanese gangs of Cairo; the Lost Boys and the Outlaws, this did not preclude him from being a target.
“Any Sudanese looking male will be targeted by the opposite gang, depending on his place of residence. The gang members automatically assume that if you’re Black African and live in Maadi you are a member of the Lost Boys, and if you are a Black African and live in Ein Shams, you are a member of the Outlaws, said Raymon.
The brothers added that attacks are new member rituals, and occur frequently, along with muggings, which provide gangs with an easy source of income.