Some time last year, an Australian woman was bound, gagged and raped by an intruder in front of her boyfriend during a trip to Samoa.
Breaking their silence for the first time recently, the couple who are fundraising to return to give evidence against the alleged offender, told of how the man who was armed with a pair of scissors, sexually assaulted the woman before running off with their money and belongings.
This story shocked the nation then when it happened and with the couple speaking out for the first time, the idea that this story has been making rounds all over the globe cannot be more harmful for Samoa.
Indeed, the consequences of such behavior is making a mockery of all the efforts being made to attract tourists to Samoa. The worry is that this is just one of many sickening incidents we’ve experienced on these shores lately.
Take the past couple of days for example. On the front page of the Weekend Observer, a story revealed the death of a young man from Taufusi who was stabbed senseless after a night out in town.
A source said the deceased man was beaten by three young men who have since been arrested and are held in custody. The Taufusi man had apparently gone into a local nightclub where a dispute started. Booted from the nightclub, the men continued the fight onto the road where the deceased man was allegedly stabbed several times.
Mind you, the death last Friday was the second such serious incident reported to have started from a nightclub in recent memory.
Earlier this year, two young men were jailed for four years for beating a Fijian student and leaving him lying unconscious after a fight outside a local nightclub.
According to the Police Summary of Facts, the victim went out with his friends to a nightclub in Apia on the night in question. When the victim came outside, Wilson and Mafi started exchanging words with him and the victim ended up being punched on the mouth.
The Fijian student went back inside the nightclub and around midnight, he and his friends walked outside and were about to go home. Wilson and Mafi together with their friends then again attacked him and his friends. The victim’s friends managed to escape but the victim was caught up by the accused and he was brutally beaten. The accused did not stop until they saw the victim was unconscious which was when they ran away.
Folks, such behavior merely confirms what we’ve known for sometime now that there is a serious sickness that needs to be eliminated from this country.
Now we agree that these sorts of incidents are not new. They happen from time to time and they are not confined to Samoa. But they are not normal and as a community, we should seriously be alarmed by it.
What’s wrong with these people? And in Samoa? A church going country with people who love to talk about God and love? Where is our so-called respect, ava fatafata and va fealoa’i?
As if the incidents highlighted above are not graphic enough, on the front page of your Sunday Samoan, a story titled “Gang threat or hungry youths?” added another dimension.
The story warned members of the public about a gang of youths who are making rounds in Apia, beating up people, stealing food and whatever else they can find on them.
The group has not only caused fear to individuals who regularly hangout in town but even businesses are concerned about the violence and the damage they are causing.
“We were eating with a friend and spouse there (government building) when a bunch of lowlife kids came and threw punches at my spouse,” Jay Retzlaff told the Sunday Samoan.
“We didn’t do anything wrong. They grabbed our pizza and coke, ate it and threw bottles at our car…they even tried to open the car to steal more from us. Not only that but they stole our phones.
“These little boys around 14 to 19 years kicked, punched and swore at my partner threatening to kill him. We were lucky to hop in the car and drove off to the Police station…”
Another male of Luatuanu’u, Gordon Viliamu, went through the same trouble on the same night.
“I was heading back from Pinati restaurant where I went to buy some food when they attacked me,” said Mr. Viliamu. “Two of them were standing on one side of the bridge (in front of Mulivai) and more than ten others were on the other corner. I wasn’t paying attention to them until I fell down when I was punched from the back. They took my food and ran off.”
Ladies and gentlemen, these stories and more are becoming far too common. Not a week goes by without some sort of sickening crime turning the stomach. These incidents do not reflect well on progressive Samoa.
It does not augur well for a country that prides itself on its Christian and cultural values. These barbaric acts of violence tell a story, they speak about the contradictions within our society today. They also destroy the positive contributions others have worked hard to achieve.
Now we’ve said this before and we will say it again today. There is definitely something amiss in the makeup of Samoan society. We’ve become a society of contradictions.
We say one thing and we do the opposite. Ladies and gentlemen, these incidents are not normal. They shouldn’t be happening.
You see, when an innocent tourist is violated the way that poor Australian woman was, it tells us that there is something very, very wrong with our society. The stabbings and the wanton violence being perpetrated for food or whatever speak of an undiagnosed ill that is screaming out to be dealt with.
The question is, where are our leaders?
Where are the government, church, village and family leaders?
What are they doing in response?
Here we are in Samoa, by the looks of it, it appears that we are treating it as if it’s just another case. Oh the apathy is absolutely unbelievable.
And this is our biggest problem today.
We’ve become disinterested in dealing with wrongdoing; we’ve accepted that it’s normal. Ladies and gentlemen, it is not normal and we have been silent for far too long.
Where are our values? What has happened to morality? What do we stand for anymore? Where is the restrain? Where is God in all this? Does anyone care?