DOREEN POLOH WAIM
MORE than 70 detainees at the Lae Central police station at Top Town panicked after one of their members started having diarrhoea.
The frightened detainees climbed the cell walls and started to call out to police officers to remove them.
“They are freaking out,” a policeman said.
Their fears were exacerbated after one detainee was taken ill on Saturday and had to be transferred to the cholera quarantine and treatment centre at Angau Memorial Hospital.
Police said the detainee was arrested from a settlement at Busu Mountain.
Metropolitan commander Supt Nema Mondiai said health officers at the centre confirmed that he was diagnosed with cholera.
He added that the detainee, who was sick yesterday, was diagnosed with malaria.
Supt Mondiai said yesterday that after the incident on Saturday, there was panic and fear at the police station among the other detainees in the cells and police personnel.
He convened an emergency meeting on Sunday with senior officers to initiate steps to deal with the situation.
Supt Mondiai said that Health officials sprayed the cell area with chlorine on Sunday night.
“Any prisoner taken out was also sprayed,” he said.
As a safety and precautionary measure, the police station gates were closed yesterday to keep track of the number of people entering the station.
Police officers were also supplied with gloves and masks as part of workplace safety.
Small crowds of people who gathered in front of the police station yesterday were advised about the situation.
“With the current situation, we are trying to only deal with people with genuine complaints and not allowing unnecessary people to frequent the station,” he said.
Supt Mondiai said there were 72 detainees at the five police cells blocks and they were not going to allow new intakes.
He said after the meeting on Sunday, some detainees who were arrested on minor crimes were released on bail.
“Under the circumstances, we are having flexible bail conditions,” he said.
The rest of the detainees will be taken to the court house for their cases to be decided, Supt Mondiai said.
He said those who needed to be detained would go to Buimo jail.