MOROBE came together to mourn as a province yesterday for the loss of a son and leader, the late Deputy Prime Minister and Bulolo MP Sam Basil.
Thousands from all corners of the province flocked into Lae and to Nadzab to receive his body from Port Moresby.
The flight carrying Basil’s body touched down at Nadzab Airport for the last time, around midday and travelled the highway into the Morobe capital.
Despite the morning rain, people – both young and old – stood at roadsides to farewell a vibrant leader.
A motorcade led by police and defence force personnel escorted the body which stopped over at Tanam, then at his family residence at 14-Mile before arriving in Lae at around 2.45pm.
There was another stop over at Basil’s town residence at DCA front before a final tour around the city and on to the Tutumang for provincial executive council members to pay their last respects.
Deputy Speaker and Markham MP Koni Iguan, on behalf of the Government and the prime minister, officially handed the body over to Governor Ginson Saonu.
Iguan thanked Morobe for the reception and described Basil as a true son and leader of the province.
“How you turned out today demonstrates what a true leader of his (Basil) district, province and the country he was,” he said. Basil was described as a crucial player in many national decisions and a potential prime minister of the country.
Saonu said Basil would remain a larger than life figure in Pangu Pati, which he resurrected, and the United Labour Party, which he founded and led until his untimely passing.
Basil, 52, was described as charismatic and a promising leader who was snatched away in tragic circumstances at the prime of his political career. Late Basil’s body was then taken to the Sir Ignatius Kilagis Stadium where the provincial haus krai was held.
The body remained there overnight with his people.
The provincial funeral service will be held today at 10am.
Basil will then be flown by helicopter over to Bulolo before overnighting at Mumeng.
He will then be flown to his home in Buang where he will be laid to rest.
PM sends his deputy home
By HELEN TARAWA
PRIME Minister James Marape and several MPs farewelled late Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil at Jackson Airport yesterday as his body was flown to Lae.
The Bulolo MP and leader of the United Labour Party died in a car crash along the highway between Lae and Bulolo last Wednesday.
In a brief ceremony led by the PNG Defence Force, the hearse arrived at 10.30am with the casket and was carried by pall-bearers straight onto the waiting Manolos Aviation aircraft.
Morobe MPs including John Rosso (Lae) and Koni Iguan (Markham) and Basil’s sons Junior and Ruma boarded the flight and to take their father back home.
The other Morobe MPs, including Rainbo Paita (Finschhafen) and Ross Seymour (Huon Gulf) boarded another flight while Governor Ginson Saonu, family members, other officials and a military entourage flew on the chartered Air Niugini flight.
Among the throng of people, mostly Morobeans who were present to see off Basil, were two women who wept openly and said they were there to farewell a beloved leader of Morobe.
The city’s Morobe population flocked to the Jackson’s ceremonial car park for the final send off.
Tokarara Secondary School deputy principal administration Lucy Lapan and senior science teacher Amenda Ananias both from Morobe along with some students attended the send-off.
“Sam was like a brother to me and being a Morobean from Buang, I took these students on behalf of NCD Schools to show respect,” Lapan said.
Driver involved in Basil crash appears in court
THE alleged driver of the vehicle that caused fatal injuries and death of Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil and his close protection officer Neil Maino appeared for mention yesterday at the Lae Committal Court.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Selefkaru presided over the case and described the case as a serious one.
He told defendant Matthew Barnabas, 37, of Amar village, Simbai, Middle Ramu, Madang, that he could file a proper bail application later in court as was his right.
Selefkaru said once the bail application was filed, the court could hear his bail application any time before his next adjournment date on July 18.
Selefkaru told Barnabas that the two charges of causing the death of the late DPM Sam Basil and his CPO Maino contravened to Section 39 (3) of the Road Traffic Act.
“This is an indictable offence and it is not a simple charge,” he said. He told Barnabas that the court would give police three months to complete their files by the next adjournment date.
Barnabas asked the court to be allowed to talk with his relatives which Selefkaru allowed.
Police alleged in court that Barnabas last Wednesday (May 11) between 8pm and 9pm at the Samsam section of the Bulolo Highway was involved in a fatal car accident.
It was alleged that at the time of accident, there were nine people on the vehicle which the late Basil was driving.
The court noted that Basil and his passengers were returning from Manianda Primary School in Watut.
The court was told that when the vehicle approached a bend at Samsam an oncoming vehicle driven by Barnabas, who was allegedly drunk, collided with Basil’s vehicle killing Basil and Maino and injuring other passengers.