By REBECCA KUKU
A VISIT by National Capital District and Central ACP Anthony Wagambie Jr to the angry community of Rainbow in Port Moresby yesterday appeared to have appeased the family and relatives of the betel nut seller killed there on Monday.
Police have been accused of killing Peter Pamben, 33, from Enga after policemen from the Rainbow market chased him to the Port Moresby National High School where he attempted to jump over the fence but was caught and allegedly beaten to death.
Witnesses told The National that Pamben got caught in the sharp ends of the fence and was calling out for help when he was allegedly pulled by the officers. In the process, his stomach was ripped open but the officers kept assaulting and kicking him as he pleaded for help until he died.
Doubts emerged yesterday whether police had acted in their rights in trying to stop betel nut traders doing their business in the capital city.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop told The National that he was not aware of any operation during the anniversary long weekend to curb betel nut vending or any other vending.
He clarified that the 2013 Betel Nut Ban Policy was amended to allow betel nuts back into the city, and city authorities were now only regulating it and controlling it. “However, Parliament has also passed laws to make it illegal to sell betel nuts in public places already at the beginning of this year and this does not apply to the National District Capital only but the country as a whole,” the governor said.
“But currently, NCDC has not been enforcing the betel nut ban as we are waiting for Magisterial Services and police to synchronise our efforts before we start enforcing the ban again.”
Parkop said Parliament had also made amendments to the Summary Offence Act so the betel nut ban policy was a national law, meaning that people could be prosecuted for selling betel nuts in public places.
“Once the NCDC Magisterial Services and police are synchronised, NCDC will start enforcing the betel nut ban,” he said.
“And people will then be arrested, charged and prosecuted in court for selling betel nuts in public places.”
Parkop said that he had not been briefed yet about the incident and did not know who was involved so he preferred to wait for a report from police before any conclusion could be drawn.
Wagambie said investigations into the death had started.
Pamben’s family, friends and relatives gathered outside the Boroko Police Station on Tuesday to protest and called on NCD Metropolitan Supt Perou N’dranou to have the policemen responsible arrested immediately.
Wagambie visited the outraged party who had gathered outside the Stop and Shop Supermarket at Rainbow yesterday morning to listen to their demands.
He was there with Chief Insp Toby Hamago, Mobile Squad One commander and other officers. “Investigation has commenced over this incident and the matter will be thoroughly investigated.
“CID Homicide Detectives, who are also here, will start investigating the incident and eye witnesses must come forward and work with the CID.”
Wagambie also urged the people to not close the Stop and Shop Supermarket as it was not responsible for the death and the supermarket was there to provide services for the wider community.
He appealed to them to stop selling betel nuts at the bus stop area as petty crimes such as pickpocketing, drug dealing, bag-snatching and public nuisance were rife there.
“It is also illegal to sell betel nuts at public places,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rainbow was calm as normalcy seemed to have been restored.
By REBECCA KUKU