Gang threat or hungry youth?

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 05 June 2016, 12:00AM

Members of the public have been warned about a gang of youths who are making rounds in Apia, beating up people, stealing food and whatever else they can find on them. 

The group has not only caused fear to individuals who regularly hangout in town but even businesses are concerned about the violence and the damage they are causing.

One woman who felt threatened by the youths has spoken up about her ordeal. 

Jay Retzlaff, her spouse and other friends were sharing a pizza behind the government building last Friday when they were attacked. She told the Sunday Samoan that out of nowhere a gang of youth attacked her spouse. 

“We were eating there (government building) when a bunch of lowlife kids came and threw punches at my spouse,” she told the Sunday Samoan. “We didn’t do anything wrong.  They grabbed our pizza and coke, ate it and threw bottles at our car…they even tried to open the car to steal more from us. Not only that but they stole our phones.”

Ms. Retzlaff said the sad thing about it is the offenders are very young.

“These little boys around 14 to 19 years kicked, punched and swore at my partner threatening to kill him. We were lucky to hop in the car and drive off to the Police station…my partner managed to escape when he got in the car and drove off to the Police station and I was also spared.”   

The woman is so concerned about the safety of the public she decided to share her story with people on a social media forum called the Makeki Online, warning them about the culprits. 

 “There are some kids who come in crew and beat anybody who sits at that area and rob people,” she warned. “If anyone knows about this incident please report to police as we are trying to find them. We will offer a reward.”

Ms. Retzlaff suspects that the youngsters were part of a popular dance contest that took place in front of the government building on that night. 

She added it’s hard to forget what these youths had done to them as they have left a scar on her.

Another male of Luatuanu’u, Gordon Viliamu, went through the same trouble on the same night. 

“I was heading back from Pinati restaurant where I went to buy some food when they attacked me,” said Mr. Viliamu. “Two of them were standing on one side of the bridge (in front of Mulivai) and more than ten others were on the other corner. I wasn’t paying attention to them until I fell down when I was punched from the back. They took my food and ran off.”

According to Mr. Viliamu the gang looked like teenagers. 

“There was too many of them I won’t stand a chance,” he said.  

 Even the taxi drivers that cruise around the area are familiar with the group’s antics.

Isaia Fogatia who serves the Matafele taxi stand, about 10 meters away from where Mr. Viliamu was attacked, said the attacks are becoming the norm. 

“It happens almost every weekend,” said Mr. Fogatia. 

“Last week there was a van that came and stopped there at the bridge and the youths got out and started throwing glass bottles and stones everywhere. 

“Our youths nowadays have become something else. Every week there is always someone that is attacked around this area and even us we get worried when they throw stones because we don’t want any damages on our cars.” 

Mr. Fogatia pointed out that while the taxi drivers want to intervene with the youth, they pull back for the fear of their cars being damaged and worse threats to their lives. 

 “Of course we call the police when it happens,” he said. 

“Even though they are just down the road it takes them almost half an hour to attend to the call. By that time the youths have fled and they continue to get away from the mess they do.”

The taxi driver also believes that the youth gatherings in front of the government building is attracting the wrong crowd. 

“It’s been used as an opportunity for young people to gang up on each other and battle. It’s creating more problems than what was initiated for.”

On the same day that Mr. Viliamu and Ms. Retzlaff were attacked, a young man was beaten and stabbed at Matafele. He was taken to hospital where he later died. 

It was not possible to get an official comment from the Police yesterday.



By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia 05 June 2016, 12:00AM

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