By ZACHERY PER
TWO young men believed to have been held captive or even killed following a traffic accident along the Highlands Highway last week told police they had spent nearly 12 hours hiding under shrubs and grass in enemy territory before running to safety.
Elijah Geglua, 25, and Gagle Teka, 35, both of Okondiea clan of Kamaneku tribe in Kundiawa told of their ordeal in Goroka last Tuesday, describing their narrow escape from death as a “miracle from God”.
They were passengers on a Toyota landcruiser owned by one of their brothers and were returning with others from Madang with betelnut when they ran off the road after hitting an old man on the side at Sokei village section of the highway at Eastern Highlands.
Sokei villagers, armed with bush knives and iron bars, then attacked the driver and passengers and murdered one, injured two and another passenger was saved by a woman who locked him in the house.
He was later released to Henganofi police.
Geglua and Teka dived under the nearby grass and took cover thinking that would be their last attempt as they had no choice.
“We told each other that we have no choice so if they kill us, it would be okay.
“These were our last words but God saved our lives,” Geglua said.
He said they were hiding only few metres away from the village where Sokei villagers were setting up the mourning house for the old man that died and it was next to the road.
“Police went to the scene calling for us to come out but, if we come out we will be attacked because the police were several metres away from where we were hiding and the villagers were close to us,” Teka said.
He said at around 6.30pm, they slowly crept away and escaped into the darkness.
They followed a creek until they reached Kintinu village where one of their sisters lived after her marriage.
Teka said that they came to a common market place where one of their cousins found them and were taken to their sister and her husband.
Their in-law slaughtered a pig in their honour.
After ensuring that their safety has been restored, they were taken to Kundiawa yesterday by Goroka police.
The two injured – Peter Geglua and Nabawan Bomai – were still being treated at the Kundiawa General Hospital.
The body of the deceased – Giglmai Gend Paul, 35, a father of three children – was still at the Goroka Base Hospital morgue.
Eastern Highlands police commander Chief Supt Augustine Wampe has expressed grave concerns over the escalating trend of killings along the Highlands Highway by villagers between the Kainantu and Goroka section of the Highlands Highway.
“These people have gone from bad to worse, when will they change their attitude to differentiate an unexpected accident and a deliberate killing?
“There are laws and procedures to follow and it is unbecoming for the people to take the law into their own hands,” Wampe said.
Villagers reportedly set the vehicle alight after looting it of its contents and attacked the passengers after the accident.