'Tell us what you know': Top cop urges community to help solve Calvin Bungisa's murder at public meeting
PUBLISHED: 17:43 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 10 April 2019
Camden's highest-ranking police officer called on the community to help his team bring justice for Calvin Bungisa, who was murdered in Grafton Road last Monday - while Calvin's uncle and a youth worker who had mentored him spoke movingly of their loss at a packed community meeting on Tuesday night.
Even as borough commander Det Ch Supt Raj Kohli spoke at the Queen’s Crescent Community Centre of the need for witnesses to come forward, members of the community criticised the police for failing to act over rising tensions in the lead-up to Calvin’s stabbing last Monday night.
Calvin, 22, was stabbed by thugs who chased him down Grafton Road before escaping in a car that was later found burnt out.
Det Ch Supt Kohli extended the force’s condolences to the Bungisa family and said: “The investigation goes on – the team investigating are frustrated that we don’t appear to be any further forward.
“The names we need are probably known by people in this room. Everything you know is relevant. Not talking to us won’t bring justice for Calvin or Calvin’s family. My plea to you is: tell us what you know, help us get justice for Calvin’s family.
“I don’t want to see any young man or woman die in these circumstances.”
From the audience, Khadija Shireh from the British Somali Community Centre, who also lives nearby, said: “There was tension for a while. We were expecting this to happen. The police have to intervene [before this happens].”
Other members of the community spoke of “shopkeepers who could’ve told you” about the fraught atmosphere in Gospel Oak, too.
Asked whether he accepted the police had failed to pick up on tension in the area, Det Ch Supt Kohli told this newspaper: “The lifeblood of what we do is intelligence, but it’s not coming to us. If it’s in the community, it’s not been coming to us.”
He added the police would be working to understand and change this.
He said: “My view is, your readers pay my wages.”
Mick Farrant, who founded the Queen’s Crescent Community Association, which runs the centre, told the Ham&High: “It’s nonsense that the police didn’t know what was happening.
“It’s very sad that a death that needs to happen to bring people here.”
Calvin’s uncle Claude Mampuila thanked the meeting’s attendees and said: “I am very happy to see so many people from different backgrounds here.
“If we can try to work hard together we can tackle this and stop these kids being affected by this kind of thing.”
He added to this newspaper: “We’ve all been so distressed by this, it’s been very difficult.”
Meanwhile youth worker Kito Soki, who has worked in Queen’s Crescent for 17 years, told the crowd he had been devastated by Calvin’s death.
He said: “I mentored him in this very room. The person I have lost was like a brother to me. I have seen him grow from a young man to an adult living with his girlfriend. I was mates with him to his dying day.”
Kito explained he felt it was important to bin the term “gangs” because “they are not gangs – they are little kids lost who need someone smart enough to teach them”.
Acting Det Ch Insp Ralph Coates added that the local police force had shared the community’s sadness over Calvin’s death.
He told us: “When we get the call it’s miserable. One of my colleagues on the scene last Monday called and said: ‘I know who it is who’s just been killed.’”
Meanwhile detectives are asking for the driver of a dark coloured car captured on dash-cam footage just before the murder to come forward.
On the night of the killing, it’s believed several men ran out of Vicar’s Road and chased Calvin down Grafton Road before fatally attacking him.
They then ran back into Vicar’s Road and got into a car, which drove in the direction of Weedington Road.
At the meeting attendees including Camden Council leader Georgia Gould and local MP Keir Starmer sent condolences to Calvin’s family and spoke of the need to “reflectively consider” how local authorities can reduce youth violence.
Cllr Gould said: “It’s a time of grief for the whole community.
“We must never accept young people losing their lives on our streets and we must really soul search to find what more we can do to stop this.”
The meeting saw numerous groups and individuals calling for more investment in youth services.
Ellie King, 16, spoke of her own experience of the impact of cuts to youth projects, saying since she was 10 she has seen the impact on friends and contemporaries, while youth workers also called on local and national government to devote more resources to youth services.
The QCCA’s Jill Fraser said: “One of the biggest problems is that we spend most of our time begging for money.”
Sir Keir Starmer also attended and spoke of the need continually re-evaluate last year’s youth violence task force report.
Sir Keir said: “I absolutely agree that too much money has been taken out of too much of our communities.
“It would be really easy for someone like me to blame the government, but I wanted to be here to ask myself the question of whether we are doing enough.”
Cllr Gould said the town hall had set up the £500,000 youth safety fund in part to help organisations who work with young people as part of its “holistic” drive to reduce youth violence.
A second ‘progress’ meeting will take place at the community centre in Ashdown Crescent on Tuesday at 6pm.