What’s going on at prison? It sure sounds like a death bed

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 17 November 2017, 12:00AM

And so once again, the death of another prisoner has come under scrutiny. 

It surfaced on the front page of the Samoa Observer yesterday under the headline “Wife calls for investigation into husband’s death.” 

At a quick glance, it has become almost normal to say ‘another one at the prison.’ Except it is not normal. 

All these cases of suspicious and unresolved deaths at prison are disturbing because we are dealing with precious lives. 

Although at some point these people might have strayed a bit which resulted in them being sent there, at the end of the day, we are talking about human beings who are loved by their families. Their lives were just as important as everyone else.

In a couple of cases of mysterious deaths at the prison, they were not even prisoners. They were mental health patients who ended up there because they needed help. Instead of getting help, they died. Absolutely horrible.

Which means we cannot pretend that the stories and the claims questioning the circumstances surrounding their deaths are just fables. 

We’ve heard one too many. Surely they cannot be a coincident.

Now the latest case is that of Alele Mano, 33, of Siumu who was serving a life sentence for a crime he had committed. When he died last week, the authorities apparently claimed he died from a heart attack.

But his wife does not believe that. Her disbelief is based on what she saw when she arrived at the Moto’otua Hospital and saw that her husband’s body had bruises all over. It was so bad she couldn’t continue to look at him.

 “I asked the police officers who were at the hospital at that time why my husband’s body was like that and they told me that my husband always had chest pains,” she said.

The different accounts relayed to her add to the confusion.

“Up until now, I am still confused if my husband died at Tafaigata Prison or at the hospital because even the prison officers had different stories to tell me when I asked them,” she said.

 “I do believe that something happened inside prison that led to the bruises on my husband’s body.”

Now Mrs. Tasi is on a mission. She is determined to find a lawyer to help her get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime, she is a hurting woman. She burst into tears when she sat down and thought about her husband.

 “We have two children, our eldest is two years old and the youngest is 11 months. Our family relies on him when he had the chance to come home and spend Sundays with his children and then the following week he goes back to prison,” she said. “He was a loving father to my children and also to my father who is disabled. Alele always takes good care of him.”

Who wouldn’t be touched by this? 

We repeat Alele’s life matters. Just like that of Siliva Auali’itia, Perry Tuilaepa and Hans Dalton. It means the relevant authorities must do all they can to find out how these men died.

If they were murdered, the one thing we are sure of is that the guilty party remains out there in the community. 

And this makes everyone unsafe.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot ignore these deaths and pretend that this is normal. 

Have a safe weekend Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 17 November 2017, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

Upgrade to Premium

Subscribe to
Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device.

Ready to signup?