News from Samoa

compiled by Samoa News staff

SPS ARRESTS 20 IN LUATUANUU INCIDENT

The Samoa Police Service (SPS) is continuing its investigation into the incidents that occurred in the village of Luatuanuu during the weekend from Saturday, 17 March 2018 through Monday, 19 March 2018.

During this period, the SPS received numerous calls from the members of the public reporting that Luatuanuu youths, armed with sticks and stones and with their faces concealed with pieces of clothing, were blocking the main road, searching their vehicles, and threatening the occupants of these vehicles; further, there were reports of stones being thrown at passing vehicles.

Immediately, uniformed members of SPS were dispatched to the village of Luatuanuu on Saturday evening, 17 March 2018, to investigate.

Upon arrival, the police sought assistance from the pulenuu (mayor) of Luatuanuu on Saturday night to assist with the investigation and to stop the illegal activities by the village youth.

The pulenuu insisted that he would handle the issue.

Unfortunately, the next day, Sunday evening, 18 March 2018, members of the public, again, reported that their vehicles were being illegally stopped, searched, and the occupants harassed and threatened by unidentified persons on the main road in the village of Luatuanuu.

Police, again, responded and met with the same pulenuu to assist in de-escalating the matter and, again, the pulenuu advised the police officers to leave the matter to their village council to handle and resolve.

However, early Monday morning, 19 March 2018, concerned members of the public reported to the police, again, that they were being stopped and harassed at a roadblock in the village of Luatuanuu and the situation was escalating.

Consequently, a contingent of uniformed officers in marked police vehicles were dispatched to the village of Luatuanuu to investigate and to ensure public safety.

Immediately upon arrival, makeshift roadblocks were observed on the main roadway, and soon after stones were hurled at occupied police vehicles, privately owned vehicles, and toward uniformed officers who were on foot on the main road dismantling the trees and rocks used to block the roadway. The police officers were unarmed and not on village land. Moreover, multiple sounds of gunfire were heard coming from the village during the melee. 

As a result, eight police officers sustained injuries from the rock throwing and were subsequently transported and treated at the national hospital. Further, multiple vehicles (private and police) sustained damages from the incident with an estimated cost of repair to police vehicles to be approximately $10,000.00 tala.

To date, 20 individuals have been arrested and charged; 15 of whom were members of the Luatuanuu village; and a possibility of more arrests to follow.

SPS is continuing its investigation into this unwarranted incident, including the unlawful discharge of firearms on Monday. It is also appealing to the members of the public who were illegally stopped, searched, harassed, or injured from this incident to come forward. Please contact Senior Sergeant Eneliko Taeu or Superintendent Sale Salaa of Criminal Investigation Division on 22222, or in person at Police Headquarters for further information. 

SPS encourages everyone not to take criminal matters into their own hands. Please contact the police for assistance instead.

Lastly, SPS acknowledges the tremendous and invaluable community work and contributions of village councils throughout Samoa, particularly in assisting the police in keeping Samoa safe.

(Source: SPS- Press Secretariat)

PM TUILAEPA: “ALL OPTIONS REMAIN OPEN.”

 “All options remain open,” says Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi as he continues to ponder the fate of the social media and Samoa.

Tuilaepa was responding to latest claims on the social media that he had authorized a $1 million tala reward for information that could lead to unmasking social media ghost writers and bloggers.

 “There is no reward and I will never authorize such a reward,” refuted the Prime Minister.

“Its despicable attempt by the gutless social media misfits to twist my comments to suit their ulterior motives in their vile attempts to brainwash everyone,” the Prime Minister added.

He did acknowledge that he has instructed Attorney General Lemalu Herman Retzlaff to prepare and proceed with the legal process to ensure that whoever the ghost writers are, they must stand trial and answer to their defamatory allegations which has blatantly violated the constitutional rights of some members of the innocent public including him even it means spending a million tala.

“They must answer to their slander, personal vendetta and unsubstantiated malice posted freely without consequences virally.”

“To clear the record, I remain firm that these gutless writers should not get away scot free. I have kept no secret in publicly condemning the misuse of the social media which has defeated the genuine purpose behind the government’s investment to improve our ICT capacities for the benefit of the people,” said Tuilaepa.

“For almost two decades, my administration has left no stone unturned in developing our ICT Sector. 

“And it has been a long journey of ups and downs from this office, Cabinet to parliament and back.

 “Why do you think, I took over as Minister of Communication at one point in time?  I did because it needed a new injection of leadership… strong leadership to captain the government’s ICT drive to be where it is today.

“Government also separated SamoaTel’s and Samoa Post for a good reason and then removed SamoaTel’s monopoly and look at our Mobile services today.

“This was and continues to be the government strategy to provide our people with affordable communication opportunities, coupled with Strategic Development Plan to improve all the sectors from Education, Health, Finance, and Agriculture… everything.

“The latest $20 plus million tala investment in the Tui-Samoa Cable speaks volumes of where we are and where Samoa is going in ICT.”

But he is disappointed that the “misfits have used the opportunities to vent out that to slander, personal vendetta and unsubstantiated malice posted freely without consequences.”

And he also fears for their safety reiterating that he is worried that things may back fire when the identities of the faceless writers are exposed.

“The warnings are on the wall. 

“Individual and family reputations have been publicly smeared by these ruthless writers and I pray that there will be no outbreak of violence.”

The Prime Minister also hears audible and viral comments urging him to reconsider.

“There is little question when it comes to my vote to support for Facebook and other platforms.

“I am in favour and that’s why I was behind it from the start, when we pushed for the development of the Internet links to speed up communications with the outside world. 
“But at the point Government is now moving to address the abuse and if it means closing Facebook down then that is what will ultimately happen.

“Again I am at crossroads.

“Until then all options are open,” he concluded.

(Source: Press Secretariat)

SAMOA AIRWAYS – MAKING IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN CULTURAL COMMITMENTS

APIA, 7th April 2018 – Levaopolo Uitinesi Apoua Mata’afa travels frequently between New Zealand and Samoa. He has to. He may live in Auckland, but he is very much involved with family and village obligations here that he has to attend to. In fact, he now travels home every month to attend meetings at his village of Salamumu.

 Thanks to Samoa Airways, this has been made easier for him with the availability of affordable airfares at his disposal.

His latest trip to Samoa was on Friday last week to attend an all-important, second meeting between Salamumu and Sale’aula, to discuss their response to the proposed Electoral Constituencies Bill 2018, which affects their constituency of Gaga’emauga.

In fact, when Levao was being interviewed for this article, he was boarding a Samoa Airways flight from Auckland to Samoa on Friday afternoon, so that he can arrive in time for the village meeting the following Saturday.

“Samoa Airways has made my life so much easier in so many ways. One of those is enabling me to fulfil my village and cultural obligations in Samoa, while still performing my duties as a husband and father for my family in New Zealand”, said Levao. “It has helped me travel on a more regular basis between my home in Auckland and my home in Salamumu”. 

It is actually the third time this year that he has travelled to Samoa for village-related matters.

“It was hard for me at first to do this especially with the expensive fares on the other carriers before. But ever since Samoa Airways came back into operation, it has made it so much easier for me. I am so glad that we have our own airline again, which understands our cultural, family and church obligations and offer specials accordingly”.

Levaopolo also credited Samoa Airways for making other carriers lower their fares.

(Source: Samoa Airways- Press Secretariat)

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