FOUR hours after starting their day selling ivi (chestnut) outside the Bank of South Pacific branch in Samabula, Suva, the three women of Draubuta in Tailevu just wanted to return home.
Titilia Wati, Adi Yaga Delana and Anaseini Bakeinai were seated about two and half metres from the wall of the bank when a white Toyota Hiace panel van veered on to the sidewalk and reversed into the wall.
They all looked shaken when The Fiji Times arrived minutes after the robbers made their getaway with an undisclosed amount. "E sa vakadomobula sara ga. (It was frightening)," Ms Bakeinai said.
Ms Wati said they saw the vehicle enter Rewa St from Ratu Mara Rd and just stopped ahead of the bank.
She said the van, owned by Narseys Plastic, then reversed right into the wall which easily tore open from the impact.
"E coqa vakadua, vakarua, e na kenai katolu, sa ratou lade mai tuba e lewe lima. Va e sobu mai muri ka dua e sobu mai nai dabedabe i liu. (They hit the wall once, twice and the third time, five men jumped out of the van, one of whom got out from the front seat)," Ms Wati said.
She said they got a shock and stood up when the van smashed into the wall close to where they sat selling ivi.
She said they ran from the scene, looked back and saw two men get inside the bank and with the assistance of the others, retrieved two drawers from inside.
Ms Wati said they started screaming for help when they realised what was happening.
Ms Bakeinai, said a young man wanted to come and stop the robbers but was attacked by the robbers with bottles.
She said just sometime before the robbery, she sat exactly against the wall that was targeted by the robbers.
"Ke'u a dabe toka beka ga i kea, au kila e na coqai au sara ga na lori ya. Ke calati au, ena dua beka vei iratou ena cakava vei au e dua na ka. Sa vakadomobula sara ga. (If I was still seated there, the van would have bumped me against the wall, or even if it missed, one of them would have done something to me). It was really frightening," Ms Bakeinai said.
Ms Wati said she only thought of the five escapees as the robbery took place. "Ena gauna a sa yaco tiko kina na butako, o au na noqu vakanananu e lako sara vei iratou na lewe lima ka ratou dro tiko mai na vale ni veivesu. (When the robbery was happening, my thoughts went to the five who broke out of prison," she said.
"E vaka sara ga na sara yaloyalo. (It was just like watching a movie)," said Samabula resident Iliesa Dawai. He said he was bringing out the rubbish when the three women pointed out what was happening.
BSP's chief risk officer Haroon Ali said this was a disappointing case because there was no response from 911. He said someone from their Suva office ran to Central Police Station to alert officers there, who then alerted their patrols.
Acting chief of operations SSP Rusiate Tudravu said he could not comment.