The National, Tuesday 23rd April 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
AN opportunity to make extra money may have led to the death of a public servant from the Lai Valley district administration in Southern Highlands on Saturday ..
Victor Hapon, from Pongra village in the Lai Valley, was found dead in an overturned land-cruiser at Yaken village in the Imbonggu electorate, nearly 4km from Mendi town.
According to the deceased’s brother, Filipus Hapon, his brother was among a group of eight people, five males and three females, who were allegedly smuggling up to 30 cartons of beer through the back-roads of Southern Highlands.
Two of the backroads are reportedly through Tambul to upper Mendi and from Kandep through Lai Valley to Mendi. It is not clear which road they took.
The Southern and Hela provinces ban the sale of alcohol but people are known to reap big profits from illegal supply and sales.
Residents in Mendi say it is normal for people who have access to vehicles to buy beer in bulk in Western Highlands for re-sale at black-market prices in Mendi, some for K10 a bottle and up Tari in Hela it goes for K15 a bottle.
Hapon said: “From information I got after the incident that night, they had bought the beer from Mt Hagen and were driving along the back-roads heading to Nipa and possibly into Hela to sell the beer at up-market prices.
“Victor was dead with no marks on him and at this stage he may have died from suffocation when the cartons of beer fell on top of him.