Rather than wasting time on Ole Palemia, why can’t government do something to keep Tualima in prison?

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s the cold truth. Reading the story “Mother tells of escaped prisoners attack horror” published in the Weekend Observer last week immediately sent shivers down the spine.

It wasn’t just for the graphic details of what unraveled at Ululoloa that morning. The people involved, especially the name Lautiti Tualima, brought back chilling memories of another gruesome attack, which made world headlines a few years ago. It would be fair to say Samoa tourism is still trying to recover from.

Considered one of Samoa’s most dangerous criminals, back in 2015, Tualima broke away from Tafa’igata and somehow managed to find his way to Tiavi. 

There at a remote resort carved into a tree, Tualima committed one of the worst cases of rape ever told against a couple who were in Samoa to celebrate their wedding. Having spent great quality time in Samoa, the Australia duo were getting ready to head to the airport to board their flight home when the unthinkable happened. 

Tualima broke into their room, outmuscled and tied the man down and then he proceeded to rape his wife at knifepoint while he looked on. The shocking details of what unfolded have been well told. 

Suffice to day his behaviour attracted world attention to Samoa where Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi was forced to defend the reputation of this country as a safe place for tourists. How can we forget that infamous 60 Minutes episode filmed on 4 July 2016 at the Prime Minister’s office?

A lot was said during that interview which divided opinions across the nation.

But the Prime Minister extended an invitation to the crew of 60 Minutes to “come (back) before the 1st of June next year. Around the time of our Independence.”  He promised that things would be a lot better then.

Well that was six months ago. Whether 60 Minutes crew returned we don’t know. 

What we do know is that if they did come, they would have an even more sensational programme to film and tell the world. That’s because not only has Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government been unable to complete the new Prison, Tualima has struck again.

Last week he was among four prisoners who escaped from Tafa’igata and allegedly attacked two family homes at Ululoloa.

One of the victims is a prominent businesswoman and mother of three who was left with facial injuries and nightmares about the ordeal. Speaking to the Weekend Observer, the woman who asked for her name to be withheld, said she is scarred for the rest of her life. 

She is convinced that it was Lauititi who broke into her bedroom. 

“He leaned towards me with a knife and pushed me onto the bed,” she said. “He threatened to stab me and then he punched me on the face. At some point, my youngest daughter woke up and was screaming and he pulled her off the mattress. 

“I had to take control of the situation. I just told him - just relax and that my purse is there, just take it. He just took my iPhone and ran off.” 

The woman went on to tell The Weekend Observer she was afraid for her family’s safety.

“My daughters were in the kitchen with some other knives trying to fend off the others who were outside. 

“I thought it was just Lauititi there and it wasn’t until I spoke to my daughters. When I screamed they saw another guy running out of the house and that’s when I realised there were two guys in the house.”

We are grateful that the businesswoman and her children survived. 

But we fear to even imagine what could have happened had these guys had weapons on them? 

The question is, how many more innocent members of the public must be subjected to this kind of treatment before this government wakes up about the need to ensure prisoners are kept behind bars? 

What’s the point of the Police investigating and finding these criminals and the Court sentencing them if the Prison is not secured enough for them to stay there? Now obviously Tualima is considered one of the most dangerous criminals in Samoa and yet if he is able to escape quite easily, what does that tell us of security at the prison? 

Samoa, especially Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s government, needs to wake up and do a better job to protect the innocent citizens of this country – and visitors – who continue to be subjected to abuse and hurt caused by prisoners behaving as if they can do anything they like.

The incident from last week involving Tualima and other prisoners is yet another slap in the face of this government who seem to be more concerned about catching Ole Palemia rather that doing what they are paid to do which is to protect members of the public.

The fact is we are tired of hearing the same excuses every time prisoners break away and hurt innocent people. We don’t want to hear any more excuses. The government should just hurry up and complete the new prison and spend money wisely to ensure prisoners are kept in there.

What do you think? 

Have a safe Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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