When a nation takes a collective sigh of relief. Thank you Police!
It’s undeniable. Everyone in this country would be resting a lot easier today knowing that two of Samoa’s most dangerous prisoners are back behind bars, where they truly belong.
Indeed, it’s perhaps the best news we’ve heard all week and praise is deserved where due. So let’s acknowledge with deep gratitude and appreciation the work by the Police and everyone who played a part in recapturing Lauititi Tualima and Aniseko Vaelei on Wednesday night.
We don’t know how they did it. But a brief media statement issued by the Police on Wednesday night would have been one of the most read statements they have ever issued.
“Samoa Police Service wishes to inform the public that we have the two escaped prisoners, namely Lauititi Tualima and Aniseko Vaelua in custody,” the announcement read. “S.P.S. acknowledges the assistance and support of the Samoa Prisons and Corrections Services and members of the public for the information that lead to this successful apprehension of the two escaped prisoners.”
And that’s all we wanted to hear. What matters is that these men have been caught and members of the public feel a lot safer and more secured.
It’s fair to say that since Sunday when the news broke that the two men had escaped once more, this time from a brand new $18.2million high security prison, the country has been bracing itself for the worst. Knowing the history of the criminals in question and the multiple crimes they had committed in the past, anything could have happened.
Which is why everyone became nervous. And who wouldn’t be?
There are reasons for criminals to be locked up in jail. There is logic for them to be separated from the community. One of those reasons is that they are dangerous and the risk of reoffending is always high.
Career criminals like Tualima and Vaelei have proven this time and time again, they simply don’t care. They appear to be the type of prisoners who will be quite happy to continue to commit crimes so they could stay in prison forever.
It’s quite sad but that’s the truth. We are talking about people whose actions and behaviour in the past show total disregard for law and order. They do not care who they hurt or what they do. And many people in this country today live to tell horror stories of their encounters with these men.
We are talking about women who were raped and mothers who were attacked, robbed and on the verge of being raped. We are talking about elderly members of the community who were subjected to assault and beatings by these people.
We are talking about members of the business community who were tortured, robbed and threatened with violence. There are countless stories of what these criminals have subjected innocent members of the public to.
This is why when the news that these men had escaped from a brand new multi-million-tala prison facility broke, it sent shockwaves across this country. It’s not that Samoans are not used to having prisoners escape. It’s the idea that a brand new prison, which had been talked up so much by the Government, has only taken prisoners just over two months to figure how to get out! That’s what was disturbing about this whole debacle.
It is not a good look for the Minister responsible and the Government. They would have been deeply embarrassed by what unfolded. Which is perhaps why they have also acted quickly to suspend the Commissioner of Prisons and Correction Services, Taitosaua Edward Winterstein.
It’s an interesting decision to say the least. It has set a benchmark that could be very tough to follow especially if prisoners keep on escaping, as we have seen over the years. But should they stop with the Commissioner? What about people above him, including his political masters? Should they not be held accountable too?
In confirming the suspension, the Minister of Prisons and Corrections, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said the decision was made during an urgent Cabinet meeting called on Tuesday.
“I can confirm that a [Cabinet Directive] was issued directing the suspension of the Commissioner pending an investigation,” said Tialavea.
The Minister declined to reveal who is conducting the investigation and what it would be looking into. So let’s wait and see.
That aside though, we believe it is about time a full inquiry is conducted into the systems governing prisons in Samoa. For many years, the blame was always on the poor state of the Tafa’igata prison. That can no longer be an excuse today.
With a hefty investment of Government funding in a brand new prison, we need to see some results. Indeed, this investment has got to be translated to members of the public being better protected from criminals, who don’t belong anywhere else but behind bars where they should remain until their time is done.
Today, we want to thank the Police once more and members of the public who played a critical role in recapturing two of Samoa’s most wanted men.
Heading to the White Sunday long weekend, we can all rest a little easier.
Have a safe Friday Samoa, God bless!