Villages' prison break actions commended
As Police attempt to decipher what triggered Monday’s mass prison break, the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil has commended the collaborative work of villages to help recapture escapees.
Village councils and chiefs were called to assist Police and bolster their strained resources.
Estimates of the number of prisoners involved in the prison break varied. Initially the Prisons Minister said that 29 inmates had escaped but later in the day Fuiavailiili quoted a figure of 36.
Those escapees were scattered across the island on foot, getting as far as Vaie'e, Fasito'o Uta, Falease'ela, Nofoalii, Malie. A few others turned themselves in.
"It was not just Police and Prison, the villages also responded to the Police saying they were also on the watch, which enabled us to catch some of them. If it wasn't for their help and the communities’ help, there's no way we would have gotten all those people then," said Fuiavailiili.
"I would like to thank those villages whose chiefs and young men assisted the Police in their work, as well as these villages, Falese'ela and Fasito'o Uta."
As of late Tuesday a total of 32 prisoners had been recaptured.
The Police Services pleaded to the public to keep alert and warned people to lock doors and stay inside.
Should a suspicious person be sighted, the public were warned not to approach them as they are armed and dangerous, but rather to alert the Police immediately.
One of the prisoners was caught in the village of Fasito'o Uta, where he was approached by village men.
The village Mayor, Fausia Pusi Sione, said it was about 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning when they captured the young man who claimed to be from Luatuanu'u.
He was later identified as Pauga Kalolo.
Fausia told the Samoa Observer that they were not able to get a good sleep throughout the night as they continued to keep an eye out for the prisoners on the run.
"We don't know what direction these escapees were running, but he might have been the odd one running through our unpaved inland roads. It seems he spent the night resting and continued on as soon as there was a bit of morning light," he said.
"But before he could go any further, our village men spotted him and went on to catch him as they knew that there was no one in the village like that.
"And when we alerted Police, they confirmed that it was indeed one of the escapees. He told us he was from Luatuanu'u, we don't know if he was lying but he might have been trying to go back there."
During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Fuiavailiili said the Police would not rest until they apprehend the remaining four escapees on the loose.
"Don't panic, just relax. But you still need to use common sense right now. These guys are not good guys and we want them in,” he said.
“But use common sense when you stay home, when you move about especially to pay attention to the children."
He also wished to extend appreciation towards those who were able to extend a helping hand to Police Officers by wishing them well. The Pinati restaurant also gave food to "tired and hungry" Police Officers on duty overnight.
"Otherwise let's just hope they turn themselves in and we can move on and get rid of this prison stuff and move on and face the real invisible enemy, which is the coronavirus,” he said.