Taxi drivers help bring in prisoner

Quick thinking by taxi drivers led to the capture of a prisoner who was one of 29 inmates who dashed for freedom from the Tanumalala Prison on Monday night.

A driver with the Saleimoa Taxi stand noticed a suspicious looking man sitting in front of the Saleimoa Farmer Joe supermarket early Tuesday, and immediately identified him as escaped prisoner Sofi Uale.

Faialaga Uatua, a 32-year-old taxi driver of Saleimoa, told the Samoa Observer that he was alerted to the man’s presence by his colleagues while in town shopping for his family.

"I was going about my day as usual and I received a call from one of the drivers here, saying that a suspicious-looking man was sitting in front of the supermarket,” he said. 

“I rushed back to our base and told them not to act in any way, which would give the man an idea of what we were trying to do.

"When I arrived I quickly sent screenshots of the photos of the remaining prisoners to everyone and I immediately recognised him so I went up to him and asked where he was from, he replied that he was from Savai’i, he had scratches on his hands and he looked very tired.”

Mr Uatua said he called the Police and his calls went unanswered, leaving him with no choice but to take the matter into his own hands, by following a pick-up truck that the escapee had hopped onto while it was stopped.

“When I tried calling the Police no one answered, I guess they were occupied since nine prisoners were still on the loose. Luckily, I was able to spot him getting on a pick-up truck and riding off,” he said. 

“I followed the truck, while trying to reach the Police, and while on the way a police car was heading back so I stopped them and told them what I know.”

The driver of the pick-up truck didn’t know a prison escapee had hitched a ride on his vehicle, according to Mr. Uatua.

"The poor driver was not aware of the prisoner riding at the back of his truck and it was a miracle he wasn't attacked before the Police got there,” he said. 

“They (Police) stopped the pick-up truck at Malie and took him in.”

Acknowledging the authorities for working overtime to capture the prisoners, Mr. Uatua said he fears those still on the run attacking families and properties and he urged the public to work with the Police to locate them.

"These people aren't good people and they have no good intentions. They are not afraid to commit crimes and I have three daughters and I fear for our children especially young girls,” he said. 

Parents should look out for their children and keep them indoors until the police and authorities have captured all of them.”

Uale, 23, of Lauli’i and Foailuga was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment in April last year over the death of a security guard at a local nightclub. 

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