The National – Monday, February 14, 2011
By DAVID TERRY of police media
MEMBERS of the police tactical airborne unit flew downstream yesterday from where Probationary Const Isaac Mambi was murdered and traced the river upstream but could not locate the remains of the policeman who was killed by more than 50 knife-wielding men in Kaupena, Southern Highlands last Wednesday.
The aerial search mission was aborted twice due to thick cloud formations over the Tari Gap and near Mount Ialibu and was launched today.
Since the attack several police patrols were sent on foot downstream but they were not able to locate Mambi’s corpse.
Continuous rainfalls in Western and Southern Highlands have also caused the river to flood and this has hampered the efforts of the search party.
The wide Kagul River runs through a gorge with vast uninhabited ridges which stretch for miles.
In yesterday’s aerial search, the police helicopter had to hover low above the river but the airborne search team could not locate Mambi’s remains because the river and its tributaries downstream were heavily flooded.
Five days have passed since Mambi was murdered and his body thrown into the fast-flowing Kagul River near the Paunda electricity plant at the border of Western and Southern Highlands provinces.
Following the killing more than 25 houses, including several permanent structures and tucker shops, owned and operated by settlers were burnt down by angry villagers when police moved in to hunt down the suspects involved in the killing.
Issac Mambi, 25, is single and comes from Katiloma village in Kagua, SHP.
He was attacked with bush knives and his mutilated body was dumped in the river when he went with four other policemen and five security guards to investigate a report of bootleggers smuggling liquor across the river.
There is an indefinite liquor ban throughout the province and police and security guards are manning the check point near the Paunda electricity plant in Kaupena.
Mambi’s colleague Probationary Const James Wali escaped with axe wounds while a security guard working at the Kaupena check point lost two of his fingers in the attack.
The villagers in Kaupena have blamed Mambi’s murder on settlers from other parts of SHP, whom they said were responsible for the killing of another policeman two years ago and the wounding of another last year.
Some local leaders claimed that settlers from elsewhere were involved in crime and other activities and the Kaupena people want the settlers to move out of their land.
SHP commander Chief Supt Teddy Tei said the villagers want their land from the settlers because of the increase in crime and lawless activities along Kaupena Highway.
He also appealed to people at Kaupena to assist the police in capturing the suspects.