Matai rejects reconciliation claim

A matai from Salesatele has rejected claims made in Court that a man accused of attacking another man with a speech impediment had apologised to the village and reconciled with victim and his family. 

Tafesilafai Iosefa is facing three counts of grievous bodily harm, occasioning actual bodily harm and being armed with a dangerous weapon. 

He was found guilty last week by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson of inflicting the injuries on Oliva Malio from Salesatele during a machete attack in October this year. 

But a matai from Tafesilafai’s village, Mali’o Sauea, stood before Justice Vui on Monday asking to clarify some of the claims made by the accused in his evidence. 

The matter was called for sentence but it has been adjourned until Friday this week.

Malio told Justice Vui that earlier in the trial he raised his hand because he wanted to correct some claims made by Tafesilafai during his evidence. 

“In his evidence he said he has already apologised to the village and his family has reconciled with the family of my sister [mother of the alleged victim],” said the matai. 

“I am here with other village council members and the claims from Tafesilafai are not true.

“For your information he has been banished from the village and, to date, he has not conducted an apology before the council and he has also not met with the family of my sister to reconcile the matter.” 

Malio added he wanted to make sure that the Court is clear on the claims made by the accused that were unfounded. 

Justice Vui said the explanation from the matai was crucial for him to consider when he hands down his sentence this Friday. 

He adjourned later on this week to allow the defence counsel, Leilani Tamati, to file final submissions. 

Last month, the Court found Tafesilafai not guilty with Justice Vui rejecting the accused’s claim that the attack on Oliva Malio was an act of self-defence.   

According to evidence before the Court, Malio was maintaining his plantation on his family land at Salesatele earlier this year when he was attacked. 

The Court heard that the accused was told by his daughter that Malio was cutting down his nonu trees. 

But the complainant maintained that the plants and trees were planted on his land and belonged to him. 

He added that the reason he cut down the trees was because relatives of the accused had stolen fruits from his plants. 

In his evidence, Tafesilafai said he was talking to Malio when he was suddenly struck with the machete. 

It led to him retaliating and causing injuries to the complainant, he said. 

In considering the evidence before the Court, Justice Vui placed weight on the two witnesses who saw Tafesilafai causing injuries to the complainant. 

It is also the evidence of the men that the accused waved goodbye to them before leaving the area after the attack. 

Tafesilafai, by contrast, claimed that he was waving at the men to get their attention so they can could render help.  

The Court ruled it was clear that, throughout the incident, the deaf man had screamed for help and his brother in-law and two other men came to his aid.

 Malio was later taken to the hospital where, his mother said, he had four operations.

The doctor’s evidence pointed out that there was an underlying fracture to Malio’s left leg bone and his tendons were severed. 

“The complainant is obviously still suffering from his injuries as evidenced by his inability to walk in Court without the aid of relatives and crutches,” said Justice Vui. 

“The man's previous ability and status as a hard worker as testified by other witness obviously has faded.

“It is significant in the assessment of what happened that the accused took no action to help the complainant even when he knew that the man was injured from his strikes.”

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