A group of about twenty youths who branded themselves as Original Blood Outlaw (O.B.O.) were on their knees yesterday before the village council of Vaimoso begging for forgiveness.
The youngsters made the plea before the Council following a meeting between the village of Vaimoso and four Police officers in the village yesterday morning.
Each one of them admitted to their involvement and took turns to apologise to the matai for shaming the village and vowed to stay out of trouble.They also promised to disband O.B.O.
The meeting by Police and the villagers was an attempt from by Police to reach out to the villages in town area to assist in capturing the youths and ensuring they stay out of trouble.
The group is a mixture of students, school drop outs and a few that are currently working in their family businesses.
During an interview with the village spokesperson, Aulavemai Tafito Selesele said it has brought to their attention that some of the O.B.O members are from their village.
Aulavemai ensure that the village is taking action and putting an end to the gang.
“The youths have knelt on their knees and asked for forgiveness,” said the matai of Vaimoso.
“They have been forgiven but in moving forward if anything else comes up it will not be tolerated and the village will deal with them.
But at the meantime the village is gathering information and we have found that not all of them are from this side…we do apologise to the country and those that have been affected and had their properties destroyed by the children and we assure them that the village is dealing with them.”
Aulavemai maintained that the village has selected a special committee to patrol the streets at night to keep it safe and any youths marking around that time will be sent home.
He also added that the youths have been forgiven and have been ordered to put an end to the O.B.O.
“They will be dealt with and have been told that the gang O.B.O. can no longer be spoken about and will be erased starting from today,” he said.
“Some villagers have offered to fund the repainting of some of the businesses that had their properties vandalized by O.B.O. and these youths will be repainting it. We have also talked about giving the youths some development work they can do to occupy their time like working the land.”
Aulavemai was also asked about the reasons given by the youths on why they had setup O.B.O.
According to him one of the youths that led the group said O.B.O. was setup to build the relationship between the youths from Vaimoso, Taufusi and other villages.
“But what we had found out the name gives a different impression and the meaning of the name does not reflect that and the village has stepped in and put an end to it. Some of the children in the gang don’t even know what they are getting themselves into they had gone with it because of peer pressure but have no understanding of what it is.”
As for the Ola Poo le Oti, Aulavemai said the youths had claimed that it was a short name they are known by.
Asked if the youths have been charged by Police, Aulavemai said no.
“Nothing like that was said (in meeting with police),” he said.
“They only came to seek our assistance in this matter to put an end to gangs. The village has no intention for the youths to be taken to Court but as I mentioned we want to nurture them and deal with them through their parents, churches and village.”
It was not possible to get an official comment from the Ministry of Police yesterday.
Police Spokesperson, Maotaoalii Kitiona Kaioneta is in New Zealand and SuaMuliagaTiumalu was not available when contacted.
The youth gangs are suspected to have been taken in by police during their operation in the Savalalo market on Saturday last week.
A bystander who did not wish to give his name was one of the many people that were inspected by the police that were in casual clothes.
The eyewitness claimed that more than twenty youths were taken in on Saturday morning after police found red clothing on them and were suspected to be O.B.O. members.
One of the police officers that met with the Vaimoso village council yesterday told the gathering that one person has died and the youths are suspected to be involved.
“Gangs have reached our shores and threatening the safety of the public,” he said.
“There are only a few police officers that deal with thousands of people and we need your help and assistance…we depend on each other and we work together especially when it’s our children that are involved in these gangs.”