By REBECCA KUKU
PAPUA New Guinea’s 44th Independence Day anniversary celebrations on Monday were marred by violence when a buai (betel nut) seller was allegedly battered to death by police in Rainbow, Port Moresby.
Relatives and friends of Peter Pamben protested outside the Boroko police station, calling on National Capital District (NCD) Metropolitan Supt Perou N’dranou to have the cops involved in the killing arrested immediately.
The killing has turned the market area into a “ghost town” with people fearing unrest. The Stop & Shop in front of the market was also closed.
Boroko police station commander James Wafihambu met with the relatives yesterday and listened to their grievances.
Wafihambu told them that N’dranou declined to meet and had asked him to tell them to follow procedures and allow the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to probe the incident.
“I cannot speak on your behalf but I will bring your appeal to his attention again,” he told the relatives. Evans Arlo told The National that his brother, a bachelor, was allegedly killed in public and in broad daylight by policemen who had arrived at the market to chase away betel nut sellers.
“Peter was chased by the policemen from the market to the Port Moresby National High School gate, where he was caught and (allegedly) battered to death by the police.
“They then, (allegedly) emptied his pockets and stole his money,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if he was a buai seller or not. He did not deserve to die like that.”
Arlo said they were protesting outside the police station to demand the immediate arrest of those responsible for Peter’s death.
“We are appealing to N’dranou and the good Police Minister Bryan Kramer to please have those involved arrested immediately.
“Too often, we have been (allegedly) assaulted, beaten, harassed and robbed by policemen,” he said.
Arlo also called on NCD Governor Powes Parkop to review and reconsider the betel nut ban policy that had already claimed too many lives.
“The country is going through tough economic times, and many people depend on their betel nut tables to make ends meet in the city.
“Why are policemen beating up men and women for selling betel nuts? Betel nuts are also being sold in police stations.
“Even in police barracks, policemen’s families are selling betel nuts,” he added.
Arlo said they would continue to protest outside the police station till the perpetrators were hauled up.
“We have already lodged police reports and spoken with the Gerehu police station commander, and we are now in Boroko. Policemen are not above the law,” he added.
Peter’s family members, relatives and friends said they would continue to protest outside the police station till arrests were made and investigations conducted.
By REBECCA KUKU