Cop: Penalise tribal fighters

National, Normal

The National, Monday 3rd June 2013


TRIBAL fighting should have been included among the serious crimes amended under the Criminal Code Act (Amendment Bill 2013) passed this week, a senior police officer  said.

Hela provincial police commander Jimmy Onopia said tribal fights, which were particularly endemic throughout the highlands region, were responsible for a lot of lives lost and destructions to thousands of properties.

Onopia said tribal fights impeded national development, separated families, communities and destroyed government and individual properties.

 “Innocent people are killed in the fights and this is murder, the government should review the laws and impose heavier penalties to stop people from triggering fights,” he said.

Onopia said tribal fighting was an act of terrorism that affected children’s learning,  effective service delivery and made innocent mothers and girls live in fear.

He said Hela was one of the provinces where tribal warfare erupted every so often at the slightest provocation and many government services had been affected.

Hela Governor Anderson Agiru earlier this year presented K600,000 to Hiwanda Primary School for the renovation of buildings destroyed during a tribal warfare.

Agiru gave the people a stern warning that every instigator of tribal fights would compensate properties destroyed in the fight.

“If you don’t have enough money to compensate, we will get your land and you will end up in prison,” he said.

Agiru said a legislation would be passed in the province to address tribal fights and urged warring tribes to put their weapons aside and work together to move the new province forward.

Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands are three of the highlands provinces where one or more tribal fights are waged at any one time throughout a year, displacing larget numbers of people and destroying properties worth thousands of kina.