By EVAH KUAMIN
A SPOKESMAN from the management of the Kalili Plantation in New Ireland has described reports of the shooting to death of a man at the plantation as untrue.
The spokesman said the plantation was not owned by Ben Micah as claimed in the report and that he had been away in Kokopo when the incident occurred at the plantation.
The company expressed their sympathy to the family of the deceased and condemned the actions of Dampet villagers who invaded the plantation and attacked plantation workers.
They also destroyed company property including copra dryers and vehicles.
In an attempt to burn down the manager’s house, a struggle ensued with plantation security personnel where warning shots were fired resulting in a stray bullet hitting one of the villagers, who died in the process.
The spokesman claimed the villagers had been heavily intoxicated with homebrew while others claimed to have supernatural powers making them unafraid of the firearms.
The spokesman said security personnel had used the firearms to warn the villagers and refrain from causing damage to the plantation property.
He added that the company possessed licenced firearms for security purposes, contrary to claims made by police in the news report published.
According to the spokesman, the cause of the disturbance had been due to uncontrolled brewing and consumption of homebrew and illegal drug use around communities on the west coast as well as the rising prices of copra and cocoa.
He added that the confrontation over the weekend had been due to the confiscation of coconuts by the plantation management which the villagers had illegally collected from the plantation.
The spokesman also expressed concern at the lack of police presence on the entire west coast from Lamusmus in the north to Lamasa in the south.
The management also indicated that they had begun talks with the police in the province to establish a police station at Kalili to help address law and order issues in the west coast area.