Thug-like behaviour, acts of intimidation have no place in this country today

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 August 2018, 12:00AM

What’s needed has been done. Today, we applaud the Police, the Judiciary and everyone involved in restoring law and order in certain parts of the country.

You see, in the wake of two separate incidents where men from Luatunu’u and Salelologa resorted to blocking public roads and threatening members of the travelling public, a strong message needed to be sent out that the Government and the Judiciary will not take these law breaking antics lightly. 

Last week, that was done and we are all the more grateful. 

It involves the Court dealing with the first incident involving men from Luatuanu’u who were convicted over blocking the road and attacking the Police earlier this year.

On Friday District Court Judge Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma put his foot down and jailed nine of eleven men from Luatuanu’u, who were hauled before the Court. They were Lilo Asiasi Fa’aitiiti, Perenise leauta, Joe Junior Peseta, Sonny Motu Elia, Jason Kioa, Sefo Vaoifi, Leueni Iakopo Tua, Ameperosa Manaia Lama, Lafaele Vito Sakaria, Fomai Perenise and Vito Sakaria. 

While eight were jailed for six months; one was jailed for six weeks while two others were convicted, discharged and ordered to pay Police cost. The men had been charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of public road, being armed with dangerous weapon, throwing stones, threatening words and rioting. These are very serious charges. Indeed the idea that rioting took place in peaceful Samoa sends shivers down the spine. What’s worse is the lack of respect that was shown towards the Police, which is something that should never be condoned.

For the uninitiated, the events unfolded on March 19, 2018 at Luatuanu’u when the men from the village blocked the government road.  They were apparently angry after a rugby tournament turned ugly where they were set upon by Falefa villagers. On that day, the men had blocked the road with the intention of avenging what Falefa had done to them, by seeking out people from Falefa.

The problem was the road they blocked was a public road that is used by all members of the public – not just people of Falefa. By blocking the road, they threatened the lives of every other road user that day.

It got worse. When the Police were called to remove the roadblock, some of the men turned on the Police and attacked them. They threw rocks and threatened the Police with gunshots. But it didn’t stop there. A few weeks later, a separate incident involving some of the same men surfaced. This time, the victim was a man from Ta’elefaga, Fagaloa.

“On April 19, 2018 around one o’clock in the morning, the victim was travelling with his wife and a family member heading to Motootua Hospital,” the Court was told.

“When they arrived at Luatuanuu they found packs of sands and a toilet bowl blocking the main road. The victim slowed down his vehicle however, someone started throwing stones towards their vehicle and by this time, the victim started speeding so that he could get away from the Luatuanuu men.

“The victim laid a complaint to the Police and they conducted their investigation and found that the three accused were the ones who were involved in this incident.”

These men from Luatuanu’u don’t care about the law. Obviously what had happened earlier had no impact on them and they must have felt that they could do it again. This criminal behaviour should not and must not be tolerated.

Here in Samoa, peace and freedom has existed for so long on the back of the fact that law and order is respected. 

It is why it’s been made mandatory that both the Police and the Judiciary are not interfered with in the carrying out of their duties. Indeed, they have to be assisted by members of the public where ever and when ever they can.

In light of the disturbing developments in Luatuanu’u and later in Salelologa, the Government and the relevant authorities need to be firm on their decision-making. People who break the law in such a blatant manner cannot be allowed to get away with it because such behaviour is contagious and other villagers are watching. If this is not dealt with and nipped in the bud now, it will only get worse.

There are two issues in question here. It is the blocking of a public road and interfering with the work of the Police. Both issues are serious and cannot be ignored. 

Now that’s pretty disturbing stuff no matter how it’s interpreted.  Which means these acts of intimidation can become a stumbling block in the way law and order is administered in this country. It is certainly a serious threat in the pursuit for justice.

What message does this send to the rest of Samoa? What stops the next group of people from blocking the road and threatening Police officers? And say these acts of intimidation and interference are allowed to go unpunished, what’s next?

Now that the men from Luatuanu’u have been jailed, we anticipate the same fate for the ones from Salelologa who did the same thing. Stay tuned.

Have a safe week Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 06 August 2018, 12:00AM

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