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Fear amid gang hunt

Serafina Silaitoga
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

SCHOOLGIRL Merewalesi Sevura was still shocked when she shared her experience of fleeing from a group of men who offered her money then chased her last week.

The incident in Dreketi last Monday morning has spread fear among the villagers of Vunisea in Dreketi, Macuata, where Merewalesi lives.

In an interview with The Fiji Times, the sixth former of Dreketi High School said she was not ashamed to share her experience because she wanted to warn girls her age to be careful.

Merewalesi had started making her way to school, walking up the hilly feeder road of Vunisea Village.

About a metre from a bush track that students use as a shortcut to school, she heard the sound of a vehicle approaching.

"I saw a grey twin-cab approaching with four men inside. I walked quickly to the track so I could easily run down the bush because it is nearer to school than the village," Merewalesi said.

"When I got to the track, I started taking my sandals off because I was feeling scared. The vehicle stopped and two men got off and came to me. They stood at a distance and asked me whether I wanted some money.

"One of the man said, 'You want some money, money' as he pointed to his breast.

"I refused and when I said no, they came closer so I ran down the track and then a third men joined in the chase as they ran after me down the bush track.

"After running for about two minutes, I looked back and didn't see them but saw some children walking ahead of me so I ran to them and hurried them along to school."

Merewalesi said before she reached school she informed a police officer she met on the way.

Police confirmed they had questioned several suspects over the alleged reports.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro confirmed that Merewalesi was taken to the Labasa Police Station last Thursday to identify possible suspects at a special identification parade.

Ms Naisoro said the police had the description of the vehicle provided by Merewalesi.

"We also conducted an identification parade where we paraded vehicle operators in the Dreketi area who would fit the description given by the victim," she said.

"The victim confirmed to us that none of the persons who attended the parade fitted the description of the person she saw on the day.

"A special task force has been set up to look into the case which so far has seen the interception of a number of vehicles and the occupants were taken in for questioning and identification parade."

Ms Naisoro also said another similar case was reported from Naua in Dreketi.

She said police would work with the LTA to track down the vehicle.

"At this stage, we've only got the first three details of the registration and colour to go with. However, so far, both victims have yet to positively identify the suspect."

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