Questions have been raised about the ability of Police in Savai’i to respond to violent situations in the wake of the fight between men from Salelavalu and Salelologa during the weekend.
It comes as the Village Mayor of Salelologa, Touli Fagaese, issued a public apology over the ransacking of the Salelologa market by some men from their village.
In the wake of the weekend of terror on the big island, members of the public present say the Police in Savai’i were poorly equipped to stop the angry mob of men hurling rocks at each other and firing off gun shots at will.
The Police had to sail across extra reinforcement from Upolu on Monday but by that time the damage had already been done – including the ransacking of the Salelologa Market.
About 50 Police Officers, including the Commissioner of Police, sailed across to Savai’i on the Police Boat Nafanua. Among them were members of the Tactical Unit, Nafanua, Criminal Investigation Division, General Policing, Traffic Police Officers; Forensic Officers and more.
Yesterday, the Police returned to Upolu to prepare for the Independence Day celebrations.
Superintendent Tuaena Lomano Paulo and a team of 10 Police Officers remain in Savaii. This was confirmed by Superintendent Taulapapa Pati, who oversees the Police Post in Tuasivi Savai’i.
He declined to comment on the complaints and concerns raised by the public.
“I cannot comment on anything,” he said. “I can’t even defend myself due to the protocols in place and that is you have to refer to the Commissioner and his spokesperson Aupa’au Logoitino Filipo who are the authorized people to address any concerns and issues.”
It was not possible to get a comment from Commissioner Fuiava Egon Keil as well as Auapaau.
But Salelologa’s Member of Parliament and Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, said it’s important for the Police to be prepared for any eventuality.
“No I am not saying to arm the Police Officers in Savai’i because I know there is still the ability of the Village Councils to counter issues in the village,” said Sili.
Yesterday, the Village Mayor of Salelologa, Touli Fagaese, issued a public apology over the ransacking of the Salelologa market. In doing so, he assured that they will ensure the behaviour is not repeated.
“We have met with the youth and the Village Council of Salelavalu, the Ministry of Police and we have sorted things out. I can assure that nothing will happen,” said Touli.
According to the Touli, they met with the Police, who had left Savai’i yesterday.
“We have agreed to turn over the young men involved and we have agreed to cooperate with the Police on what needs to be done,” said Touli.
He told the Samoa Observer the Village does not condone such behaviour and those involved will be dealt with accordingly.
“Furthermore the Village Council will meet later this week with the entire village to address what has happened."
“In the time being, we are just focused on keeping the peace in the village and Salelavalu village.”