NEWS

Unsolved Murders, Suspects Remain A Mystery

There seemed to be no sign or feeling in the air that a major crime had happened in the industrial area they worked in.
15 Jun 2019 12:09
Unsolved Murders, Suspects Remain A Mystery

It was a normal day at work for many people in the Lami industrial area almost 16 years ago.

People were going about their daily business at Wailada on the morning of August 22, 2003, without knowing what had happened near them.

There seemed to be no sign or feeling in the air that a major crime had happened in the industrial area they worked in.

Only when Police vehicles arrived in numbers in the area then people realised that something had happened.

Some people had initially thought there was a robbery in the area, but little did they know it was something more serious.

But it did not take them long to know that a major crime had happened.

The scene of the crime, multiple murders, was the then Live Fish Exports (Fiji) Ltd factory in Wailada.

Dead were Rupeni Talakuli, a young man from Wailevu in Cakaudrove, Hong Kong nationals Kaa Kee Kueok and Wu Guiuiu, and Jiang Ha Qian from China.

What surprised many people then was the manner in which the four men were killed, a style which is not often heard of in Fiji.

The four men had allegedly been shot in their head, all believed to be on the same side.

Police stated to the media then that the four men were shot by a single unidentified person and a pillow was used to muffle the sound of the gun.

In other words, a pillow was put on the heads of the four men and they were shot to death, something mostly seen in movies.

The news of the deaths spread like wildfire and there were a lot of conspiracy theories on what could have happened.

A major investigation was initiated by the Fiji Police Force, but they have not been able to solve the murders so far.

Police have stated on a few occasions that the case file was still open and they would follow up on any new information they receive.

Mr Talakuli, who was in his 20s, had left his village for studies in Suva and he is believed to have later started working for the company at Wailada.

His body was taken back to the village for burial.

The family is still waiting for answers. On the other hand, Mr Qian was buried at the Chinese Cemetery in Suva.

Considering the one child policy in China, he was the only child in his family and had come to Fiji with his parents.

His parents were operating a restaurant in Suva at the time of his death.

They sold that restaurant and opened another one.

But considering the pain they went through following the murder of their only child and the fact that his grave was in Fiji, they are believed to have returned to China.

Mr Qian’s parents had indicated a few years ago that they would return to China because it was hard to live in a place where their son was murdered.

The murder of Mr Qian, who was also in his 20s, was the end of his family’s generation.

Police officers familiar with the case said no one has been charged yet in connection with the four murders.

The murder of Phyllis Furnival

Phyllis Furnival was born in Toowoomba, Australia, on July 23, 1929, and she is believed to have come to Fiji as a missionary teacher.

She was the principal of Dudley High School in Suva and later at Lelean Memorial School in Davuilevu, Nausori.

It was December 10, 1970 when Ms Furnivall was found dead in a pool of blood inside her quarters at Davuilevu.

Ponipate Lesavua, a retired Police officer and former politician, had once said that it was a scene that no one would want to see.

Mr Lesavua was a Police constable at that time and he was one of the first Police officers to arrive at the scene.

He had said that despite carrying out an extensive investigation into the school teacher’s murder, no one had been arrested and charged.

Some former Police officers said the murder of the Australian woman remains unsolved.

Her killer or killers could have died or are probably still alive either in Fiji or abroad.

But until some new evidence comes to the hands of Police and the suspect is charged, Ms Furnival’s murder will remain as one of the oldest cold cases in the country.

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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