Salelologa and Salelavalu move to mend relations

A woman vendor from Salelavalu, who sells food items at the Salelologa market, says its business as usual after the violent ransacking incident involving young men from Salelologa at the end of last month.

Janice Mariner was at the market on the day when she says about 30 young men took to ransacking some of vendors at the Salelologa market.

The attack followed an altercation between some young men from Salelavalu and Salelologa.

According to Ms. Mariner, she believes that their section of the market was targeted because they are mostly people from Salelavalu.

“All of us are from Salelavalu so that was the only reason why they actually did all this to us,” she said.

 “There was about thirty of them that came here and started vandalising our area, they were drunk. Without the Salelavalu people in this market, no one would be able to buy food because it’s just us that provide the food to sell.”

Ms. Mariner points out that the violent ransacking occurred after a second video was posted online showing a man from Salelavalu intimidating and abusing a man from Salelologa with a gun. 

“The only reason why they did that was because of the last video that was uploaded showing a man putting a gun to the Salelologa guy’s head. I reckon that was the only reason why they came over.”

According to Ms. Mariner, despite an intervention from the Chiefs in Salelologa over an incident that occurred a few days earlier in which a house was burnt at Salelologa, the tupulaga (youth) of Salelologa took matters into their own hands, after this particular video surfaced.

“The guys from our village burnt the house and its one of those things where they got hurt because Salelavalu came to Salelologa and burnt their house in Salelologa. 

“So all of the chiefs that were here in Salelologa all went to Salelavalu to do a reconciliation but still they came. The kids just came here and tried to prove something to get back them.

“But I don’t blame them for doing that but they could at least have gone to Salelavalu village and do that in front of them instead of coming here and doing this to us.”

On the day of the ransacking, Ms. Mariner laments that herself and the other women were put in a vulnerable position having no protection against the armed and dangerous youth.

“The sad thing about it is that the day they came, it was just only the ladies with their kids that were here. There were no guys here because all our tupulaga were all doing their work. 

“Yeah obviously we were scared because they came with a gun and it was during the day time and they were all drunk.”

Historically there has always been tension and rivalry between the two villages, says Ms. Mariner, 

“Between these two villages, this kind of tension happens all the time but this is the worst situation we’ve ever had to deal with but everything is back to normal now.”

Some of the young men from Salelologa that were involved in the ransacking returned back to the market in the following days to apologise to the vendors from Salelavalu. 

Ms. Mariner says that since the perpetrators were handed to Police, life has returned to normal as the two villages go through the process of mending relations.

“Everything is all good now because Salelavalu chiefs went over to Tuasivi and gave the boys in (the ones that did the video). Salelavalu came over to Salelologa and did their reconciliation so everything is ok now. 

“I don’t think it will happen again because Salelologa and Salelavalu are all one people - we’re all family. Right now it feels like nothing had happened. It’s the tupulaga (youth) that did this because they think they’re all that.”

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