Fepuleai testifies in Salega No.1 petition

The elected Member of Parliament for Salega No.1, Fepuleai Faasavalu Faimata has contradicted the evidence of one of his witnesses regarding a monetary gift donated to a Samata-uta church. 

In his evidence, Fepuleai said a donation made by Friends4Fiame for the Samata-uta Methodist church on Easter Friday was given without his consent. 

Tautua Samoa party leader, Afualo Dr. Wood Salele petitioned Fepuleai, alleging bribery in the lead up to the General Election in April. 

Fepuleai said a $2000 tala given to the church’s women's committee and $500 tala for the youth group was part of an exchange following a programme led by Fiame Naomi Mataafa. 

He said that Fiame had not joined the Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party at the time, held talks regarding violence against women with the group at the time. 

“Fiame held the talks as the President of the Women’s National Council Committee but not as F.A.S.T. leader because she wasn’t in the party then,” he said. 

“The programme focused mainly on violence against women and ways to prevent it…the same programme was done in Fa’asaleleaga, in Siutu and in Gataivai.” 

However, when Tauiliili Analise Stunnenberg gave evidence she said the programme focused mainly on the Land and Titles Court bills and it included talks on violence against women. 

When asked by Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa if the same programme was done in Faasaleleaga and Siutu the witness replied no your Honour. 

She said this was the only programme held in Samata-uta and the Friends4Fiame was a group of friends that offered support for Fiame. 

“It [violence against women] was part of her platform but the talks mainly focused on the three bills and it included that,” she said. 

Tauiliili told the Court that the intention of the money given to the youth and women group is to reciprocate a traditional presentation (faaaloaloga) presented to Fiame and not to entice the village. 

She confirmed that she had never met Fepuleai before until the day of the service at Samata-uta.

Another issue that was addressed by Fepuleai during his evidence was $2000 tala given to the constituency of Salega No.1 during the F.A.S.T. roadshow. 

He denied contributing to the $2000 tala that was gifted to the constituency saying the funds were put together by the party’s finance committee and the candidate’s didn’t have any input. 

According to the newly elected M.P. he was responsible for informing the constituency about the roadshow and the villages in the district arranged everything to host the event. 

He said he only informed the Tuisalega in the village of Faiaai about the event and the villages prepared the ava ceremony, food preparations and traditional presentations to the party. 

Fepuleai told the Court that the $2000 monetary gift was to compensate for the district’s effort in hosting the roadshow. 

It is his evidence that the $2000 given to his district was only 10 per cent of what should have been given to reciprocate the efforts from the district and believes it could have been more. 

In countering the claims against him, Fepuleai also alleged that Afualo gave $340 tala to the Faiaai Methodist church after delivering a sermon in the village on 21 March. 

From experience, Fepuleai claims that it is not normal practice for the lay preacher (failauga) to give back money given to him as offering (taulaga) for doing the sermon. 

Justice Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma then put it to Fepuleai if he accepts that different lay preachers have different practices and there is no law that governs this practice. 

He agreed. 

Justice Niava Mata Tuatagaloa and Justice Roma presided over the electoral challenge. 

Muriel Lui was the lawyer for Fepuleai while Tufuga Fagaloa Tufuga acted for Afualo. 

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