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Children's deaths worry Fiji Police

Luke Rawalai And Solomone Rabulu
Monday, November 27, 2017

WITH the school holidays beginning today, the Fiji Police Force has raised grave concerns after the death of four children in less than a week and the discovery of another eight-year-old girl's body at the Nagata River in Labasa yesterday.

A physically-challenged seven-year-old girl from Mavua Village, Nadroga, was also found floating in a river near Raiwaqa Village and an 11-year-old student died after he was hit by a vehicle along Nalovo Rd in Nadi last Thursday.

Police chief operations officer Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Rusiate Tudravu yesterday confirmed that apart from these two deaths, a seven-year-old-girl reportedly committed suicide on Wednesday afternoon at her home in Ba while another 16-year-old student took her own life at her Lautoka home last Thursday morning.

ACP Tudravu said they were concerned about the recent reports of cases involving children even before the beginning of their holidays.

He has called on parents to ensure that the safety of their children be prioritised at all times.

"The suicide cases involving young children is also a major concern and we are again asking parents and guardians to know and understand your children and their needs," ACP Tudravu said.

"The only way that can be achieved is if we invest more time in being with them and it is imperative that a safe space is created where they can share their life with us whether it is a positive or negative situation.

"The four deaths involving our children should be a reminder to all parents and guardians that more needs to be done to ensure their safety over the school holidays and we do hope we will get everyone's support," he said.

Yesterday afternoon, Labasa police discovered the body of the eight-year-old girl who went missing after she allegedly drowned during a fresh water mussel diving trip on Saturday with her grandmother at the Nagata River.

ACP Tudravu confirmed the child was sitting by the river bank which was 30 to 35 metres away from where her grandmother was diving when she disappeared and was believed to have fallen into the river.

When approached for a comment yesterday, the distraught parents of the girl, named Tulia, refused to talk to this newspaper.

Close family members of the girl who wished to remain anonymous confirmed the girl travelled with her grandmother to a spot near the river where she was instructed to wait at the river bank as her grandmother dived for freshwater mussels.

Family members said when the grandmother surfaced she noticed the girl missing and raised the alarm for help.

In another case, a six-year-old girl was discharged from the CWM Hospital last week after she was allegedly hit by a taxi at Sangam Rd in Narere, Nasinu.

However, relatives said the incident surprised them because the clothes of the girl were located at the spot.

According to relatives, the girl did not like swimming and was scared of going near the river because of its depth.

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