POLICE in Sandaun province have reported a cargo cult movement that is currently underway at Walsa local level government in the sub-district of Imonda.
Some of the activities that were said to be linked to the cult members were being investigated including rape, theft, praying at cemeteries and baptism of followers, confessions and worshipping of plants.
Acting provincial police commander Insp Augustine Laho said yesterday that cult had taken root in Empi, Netwond and Minepaka villages with more than 30 villagers believed to have already joined.
Insp Laho said the cult leader, also known as the president, had 12 assistants who roamed the villages and threatened innocent lives, including forcing women to sleep with them.
It was also revealed that the group was now spreading its wing into the next village – ward six after successfully completing its conversion operations in the ward five areas.
The group has also coerced villagers to abandon their food gardens in fear of their lives.
Insp Laho said it was during the gardeners’ absence that the followers took advantage and stole from the gardens.
He said the cult movement started about five months ago but reports of its establishment and growing influence only reached police in Vanimo on Tuesday.
Insp Laho said this was not the first time that a cult movement had been reported in the area with some reports established from the mid-1990s as well.
Insp Laho has appealed to the Vanimo-Green River district administration to fund a police operation that is in preparation to deploy its task force members to the villages to flush out the suspects.
He also indicated that the identities of all 13 members of the group were known and arrests would be made pending their deployment into the villages.
Insp Laho has called on those who were not involved in the movement to distant themselves from the group as it was unlawful and they liable to face charges.
“Arrests, however, would be made as soon as funds are made available,” he said.