The National – Tuesday, February 8, 2011
AN attempt by “quick-fix” mechanics to remove parts of a vehicle that crashed into the premises of a guest house at 7th Street in Lae almost led to an all-out clash between two ethnic groups yesterday.
An Engan, Titus Wambun, a long-time resident of 7th Street, was driving home in the early hours of yesterday after finishing his duty shift from roadwork currently taking place in Top Town, when he came across some people trying to remove parts of a vehicle which had crashed into the fence and signboard of the Lae City Guest House.
Wambun said later that he told the would-be robbers, whom he said were boys who minded the guest house properties, to stop what they were doing.
Heated words were exchanged and Wambun was punched in the mouth.
Wambun, who lives about 50m down the street from the guest house, mobilised his clansmen yesterday morning and confronted the guest house management.
The guest house is owned by a prominent Lae resident and former rugby league figure Mogerewa Wei, originally from Gumine, Chimbu.
Around mid-morning yesterday Wambun’s clansmen and the residents of the surrounding communities of 7th Street, Bumbu Gravel, Cassowary Road and Chinatown, mobilised again and went over to meet with the owner of the guest house only to find the gate closed.
When the group turned and walked back, their rivals came out of the gate and started throwing stones, sticks and shot arrows.
A young man from Bukawa in the Nawaeb district, received an arrow to his abdomen and was later rushed to the Angau General Hospital.
The group retaliated and a “free-for-all” clash was about to erupt when police intervened. The situation could have spilled into the central business district which was only a stone’s throw away.