Why Police should escalate hunt for Samoa’s most wanted criminal

If ever law enforcement officers needed extra motivation to capture Samoa’s most wanted criminal, Pati Chong Nee, a story titled “Crime rampage revealed” on the front page of the Samoa Observer on Saturday should be more than enough.

The details of Chong Nee and Aniseko Vaelei’s crime spree, which was revealed in the Supreme Court, is shocking. It should alarm us all.

Chong Nee and Vaelei escaped from Tafa’igata Prison during a church service at prison in January this year. While Vaelei was recaptured a couple of months later, Chong Nee has so far managed to evade capture.

His whereabouts to date remains one of Samoa’s most intriguing crime stories.

In fact, some people have claimed that he’s dead, while others suspect he’s taken on a new look and possibility a new persona.

It was only last month that the Minister of Prisons, Tialavea Tioniosio Hunt, dispelled rumours that he had died. The Minister then revealed a recent Police raid at Malololelei where they were hoping to find him. They obviously didn’t.

For the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, he is taking the approach that unless Chong Nee is brought in in a body bag, he believes the runway prisoner continues to be out there.

In fact, the last sighting of Chong Nee was in February this year, when he was captured on C.C.T.V. camera attacking an innocent member of the public. That was part of a series of criminal offenses Chong Nee and Vaelei committed, where they broke into private properties, stole tens of thousands of tala and threatened many innocent lives.

The list of heinous crimes, as it was finally revealed last week, is exhaustive.

On one occasion at Vailima, the men found two girls alone inside a house. The Court heard their parents had gone shopping. Armed with a machete, they forced the young girls, who must have been terrified, to open the door. The Court heard the men proceeded inside and ate the family’s food and when they were done, they helped themselves to properties worth $27,345.

There were at least five other robberies at Aleisa, Moamoa and Falemauga among other areas.

But perhaps the most shocking one of them all took place at Vailoa, where the men broke into the home of a Chinese family.

A 15-year-old girl spotted them and alerted her parents. When her father went to check, the men who were both armed with machetes caught him, choked him and dragged him downstairs where they tied him down. They assaulted the man’s wife, and when the victims’ 19-year-old son attempted to help, he was held at knifepoint. In the end, Chong Nee and Vaelei helped themselves to $60,000 tala cash.

This attack was just part of several robberies where the men netted thousands of tala, stolen properties and valuables in a couple of months.

This is scary. If this stuff doesn’t alarm the authorities, I don’t know what will. The worry is that judging from the extent of offending, these criminals are no longer worried about hurting people. They obviously don’t care who they hurt or who they rob.

In sentencing Vaelei, Justice Tafaoimalo made some excellent observations.

 “The victim’s two teenage children ran terrified to their bedrooms,” she said about the attack at Vailoa. “They had both witnessed the violence being inflicted upon their parents. It is a struggle to fathom that this happened in Samoa, as they say ‘this is the stuff of movies’.

 “The public needs to be vigilant as home invasions have become more violent and as we saw just last month, a Chinese victim of a home invasion was killed.”

Justice Tafaoimalo also made an excellent point about the increasing number of armed robberies.

 “There is an urgent need to address this type of offending, which involves potentially lethal weapons used by offenders such as the accused with no regard for human safety,” she said. “The reason for the weapons is no doubt to intimidate, threaten, frighten and perhaps ultimately kill.”

We couldn’t agree more with the Supreme Court Judge. The next time they could kill someone.

What’s even more chilling is the fact that as of today, Chong Nee, who has become one of Samoa’s most dangerous criminals, remains-at-large. Which means that as long as he is not behind bars where he truly belongs, no one is safe. The Police and the relevant authorities need to escalate their hunt for him.

With the festive season around the corner, he’s the last person anybody would want to turn up to the house uninvited.

What do you think?

Have a safe Tuesday Samoa, God bless!















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