Let the Fugalei machete wielding man incident be a warning

The imagery is quite scary. Picture a drunken man who appears to be “not all there” walking up and down at a public place with a machete, threatening people with reckless abandon.

If members of the public are frightened, can you blame them? Which is precisely what happened at the Fugalei Market in broad daylight on Tuesday afternoon.

From what we’ve been told, what unfolded was a scary ordeal for everyone involved. This included elderly mothers and fathers and many children who witnessed it.

Among them was Malae Alalatoa who told the Samoa Observer the man was known to many vendors at the market.

“He was making a scene walking around with the machete scaring our customers away," she said. “He is a regular at the market and he can get out of hand if something gets to him.”

Now some of you might ask what is the big deal? Why should we care about a random “not all there man” at the market who was drunk? Some people might say people get drunk all the time and do stupid things? 

Well of course they do.

But that’s not the point.

According to Ms. Alalatoa, this is not the first time this has happened at the market. This apparently happens quite frequently, which is precisely why this editorial is making the point about bringing this to our attention today.

Yes bad things happen all the time and people tend to do silly things under the influence of alcohol. But walking up and down at a very public place with a machete frightening people is alarming and the relevant authorities cannot turn a blind eye.

It is fortunate that no one was hurt on Tuesday. We are extremely grateful that the man did not use the machete on an innocent member of the public, let alone the many children around.

But that could have easily been the case.

Which leads to another point highlighted by Ms. Alalatoa who pointed out people were extremely frightened and he could have seriously injured an innocent member of the public.

“He didn’t hurt anyone today but that is not the point he could have hurt someone,” she said.

Another member of the public, Iona Mika, reiterated the same concerns.

“I’m just saying that he could have hurt anyone and especially the elderly people here selling their produce and we also have children around,” Mr. Iona said.

According to him, the man is not a stranger to the market. Known as Moemoe, he is often intoxicated when he throws his fits.

“He must’ve been upset with someone for him to act that way today,” he said.

Again, this is extremely scary. If this is a regular occurrence, why has nothing been done to ensure this man is put away where he belongs? It should be done not just for his safety but most importantly the safety of everyone else at the market.

Keep in mind that the Fugalei market is regularly promoted as one of the places for tourists to visit. Imagine this man in that state attacking a tourist? Imagine the impact this could have on Samoa?

Which is why the relevant authorities, especially the Police, should take note of what happened and do something to ensure it is not repeated.

“The market should have had some security in place and for Police to respond urgently because this is a public place where we have tourists, children, women and elderly people come to shop,” Mr. Iona said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Iona said the Police turned up after the man had already left.

“The man had already left and was probably already sleeping at home. But that is a concern with our market. They are not as responsive as you would expect them.”

Ladies and gentlemen, let what happened on Tuesday be a warning to everyone here. It’s a miracle that no one was hurt. But we will not always be this lucky.

We’ve seen far too many tragic incidents around the world where people who are “not all there” go crazy and end up killing innocent people, causing widespread anguish and pain. We don’t want that to happen there at Fugalei, or anywhere else in Samoa, for that matter.

Stay safe and have a great Thursday, God bless!

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