Villagers take law into own hands

National, Normal


MV operators from some parts of Western Highlands travelling down to Simbu, Goroka, Lae and Madang were stranded at Kudjip yesterday following an illegal roadblock between Waghi Bridge and Waghi Bruk in the North Waghi district.
Opportunists from the Waghi area took advantage of the recent killing of policewoman Selly Mol in Mt Hagen by a wanted criminal last month, by blocking the road and attacking PMV buses.
The villagers looted a semi-container truck loaded with bags of stockfeed belonging to Top Rural Supplies based in Mt Hagen.
Five PMV buses had their side glasses smashed. Two buses loaded with betelnut bags were allegedly held up by the people at Waghi Bridge.
The passengers were taken to Arenga village some 2km away from the main road but were later released following the intervention of provincial police commander Supt Kaiglo Ambane and his men.
The roadblock was mounted from 7am till noon when mobile squads from Kerowagi and Mt Hagen, along with local Nondugl and Minj police, intervened to clear the illegal roadblock.
At Waghi Bruk, a truck with 450 bags of stock feed belonging to Kongo Coffee based in Simbu province was stopped and looted.
Simbu provincial police commander Supt Joseph Tondop, told The National at the scene that between 500  and 700 people were involved in the roadblock.
Supt Tondop said police were informed of the looting some 30 minutes later and when “we arrived, the container was empty”.
Police managed to recover only 40 bags of stockfeed hidden in  bushes and nearby houses.
Supt Tondop said the villagers had also cut the fuel hose, main battery cables and destroyed exhaust gas linings of the truck.
He said six suspects were arrested and would be charged with theft.
Supt Tondop appealed to the relatives of Mrs Mol and any other opportunists not to take the law into their own hands by setting up illegal roadblocks or attacking innocent travellers.
“Taking the law into your own hands will not help resolve any problem. There are avenues available to resolve the problem in a more diplomatic way,” he said.
Supt Tondop said Mrs Mol was a law enforcer and she died in the line of duty.
“Her people must respect her as a law enforcer and not to take the law into their own hands,” he added.
Supt Tondop said the Waghi Bridge section of the road was a national highway and police would monitor the road.
Mrs Mol was laid to rest yesterday in her village in Waghi Bridge.