A relative of a beggar has leapt to his rescue, defending his cousin against claims he uses the money he gets from begging to buy booze.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Pati Fidow, said his cousin Shane Pita, who begs on Beach Road for a living, does not consume alcohol.
“No one knows the story behind this guy. What they said about him drinking booze is not true. They don’t even know him,” Mr. Fidow said.
Mr. Fidow contacted the Samoa Observer after businessman Sio Silva urged members of the public not to waste any money on such people.
“It’s really sad to see that some of these beggars are taking the generosity of our people for granted,” Mr. Silva had said.
“Take for example Pita Shane, I know him because not only do I see him begging but I see him every night sitting in front of the Chinese Shop at Vaimoso opposite from Vaimoso Primary School drinking beer there.
“This man begs in the morning and whatever money he gets from begging, he uses it to buy himself beers. Then he sits in front of this shop and drinks there until he is very drunk.”
Mr. Silva said he is sympathetic towards other people who are desperate and genuinely need help. But when it comes to someone like Mr. Shane, he said it saddens him that such an able-bodied person cannot do something worthwhile to earn a living.
But Mr. Fidow said Mr. Silva has got it “horribly wrong”.
“People say he sits in front of the Chinese store at Vaimoso drinking beer but that’s not him. He has a similar looking brother who sits there,” said Mr. Fidow.
“If you don’t believe me, then you can have a word with Kose Tevaga on FM radio because he comes to this store every night.”
According to Mr. Fidow, Pita’s story is a sad one.
“He is the eldest of his siblings. We have already adopted his sister.”
“The reason why this guy is like this is because when he was growing up, his dad and a friend used to break in to houses back in the late 80s. They would beat him (Shane) up if he didn’t go steal as well.
“When he stayed with his grandma, she would tell him to come into town to get money. He didn’t know how but he had to get money. So he resorted to begging. That’s why he is like this now.”
Mr. Fidow said begging is the only way Shane knows how to make money and that explains why he has turned out the way he has.
“He collects bottles and he goes to a specific store to exchange it for money,” said Mr. Fidow. “The money he gets from those bottles is used for a little bit of beer but the money he gets from begging is strictly for food for his family.”
“On top of that, his family members asks him for money. If you notice some boys from his other village Malie talking to him in town, they ask him for money for bus fares and if he doesn’t give them anything, they beat him up.”
The concerned cousin said he wants members of the public to understand the true story about Shane.
“Shane’s dad no longer steals,” he said. “He has remarried and is a security guard.”
As for Shane, he said: “There was no victim support group back then when he started to beg. I’m just glad that he no longer robs houses and steals from people.”
Mr. Fidow concluded the interview with a small message to the public
“Please leave my cousin alone. No one knows his story. They call him a drunk but he can’t really drink, they call him lazy but he does a lot of chores before going to beg and he does the umu for his family by himself.
“It’s funny because nowadays it takes two to three people to do a umu but he does it alone most of the time.”