Killings driven by ‘evil powers’

Weekender
LIFESTYLE

A visitor’s account
By JUSTIN BOSKI
THIS is an account of the ongoing killings around the Transgogol area, especially in the ward 5 of the South Ambenob LLG in the Madang Open electorate.
The story is based on interviews and other information collected from victims and the resistance group called Waguma which is made up of men from Kokun and Derin to fight against a cult group from Berin which is responsible for the many killings in this area of Madang electorate.
The crisis started back in 2016 in Berin 1 and 2 villages. Back then there were a lot of different conflicts like land disputes and theft, rape, sorcery and a string of crimes caused by people, especially young men and that led to a big fight between the Berin 1and 2 villages. That battle claimed six lives, three from each side – and numerous houses were burnt and many other people were injured

Hero from the hausman
Then there was this man named Randolph Gala from Berin who lost his father and small brother during the first conflict. Gala went to a hausman (man’s initiation house) in the Tanggu area of Bogia district – to get some supernatural powers to avenge the losses in his family.
Gala was newly married to a woman from Sian and had one daughter.
After passing out from the hausman he returned home and then started using the magic he got to do all sorts of bad things instead of doing what he had planned.
He gathered young men from his village and they formed a group that killed people randomly, raped women and girls, stole pigs and other properties from locals.
The people did nothing in fear of getting killed by the group. Gala was known as the hero blong Transgogol.
This continued on until he was killed last October by the Waguma resistance fighters. The news of his death appeared in The National.
After the big fight in Berin, Gala and some of his men fled to Kokun the nearby village and took refuge there. That was 2016-17. While living there some men from Baisarik village hired him and his men to help fight with the other village but unfortunately they got three of his men killed. According to men from Kokun it was all a set up to kill them in that fight. From there Gala and his other men fled back to Berin and started living there again.
They started their hooligan activities again and one young man from Berin slashed Gala’s right arm so he went for treatment and got arrested and remanded in a police cell awaiting his trial.
After tw omonths he was released from police custody through what the people believed was bribery. When he got back home he started seeking revenge on the person who slashed him but instead of getting the right person he killed Kawas Kori, his wife and his nephew . This story also came out in The National last year.
Kawas Kori was the uncle of theboy who had slashed Gala.

Waguma resistance fighters
The Waguma Residence Fighters group is made up of men from Kokun and Derin villages to counter the group especially following the death of Kawas and his wife who was from Derin and a man from Kokun whom the men also killed.
Last year the Waguma fighters went to Berin at around 4am on a Sunday morning and killed Gala at his home. They shot him with guns and cut his body into pieces. They even took his right arm back to their place and buried it.
After killing Gala they thought that there was going to be peace because he was enemy to everyone. However, that was not to be.
Gala’s men are still around. They regrouped and in October last year attacked the Waguma in an ambush and killed three men from that group in retaliation for their hero’s death.
First they killed a man, Elizah Benson and laid him on the highway where policemen who were on patrol found the body and took him to Kokun where he was buried the same night.
The next day they came again but they didn’t kill anyone; they only burnt houses and stole properties. The Waguma fled because they were men down.
Up until recently there has been now no more killings and fighting but the situation is still tense and chaotic. Everyone in that ward area are now living in great fear, even the people from Transgogol area are in fear of dying anytime sooner or later.
This conflict has got international attention but sadly nothing really is set up by any government or non-governmental organisation to help resolve the conflict.
People are calling on the Government and any other independent body who think they can provide necessary help to step in and help them out.
Even the police is not effective because people believe this group has some supernatural powers that are moving them and that makes police work less effective.

  • The author is from Megiar, along the North Coast Road in Madang and recently visited the Transgogol area.

Left & Right: Ring leader Randolph Gala’s home burnt down after he was killed by the resistance fighters from the Waguma group last September.

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