Witness Says Kirwin Claimed She Was Sent By God To Help Fijians

  Mereoni Kirwin, a Fijian-born Australian national, claimed she was sent by God to uplift the standard of living of the Fijian people, the Lautoka High Court heard yesterday. The
04 Oct 2017 10:55
Witness Says Kirwin Claimed She Was Sent By God To Help Fijians
Defence lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo (left), consults with one of the accused person at the Lautoka High Court on October 3, 2017. Photo: Charles Chambers


Mereoni Kirwin, a Fijian-born Australian national, claimed she was sent by God to uplift the standard of living of the Fijian people, the Lautoka High Court heard yesterday.

The Court also heard Ms Kirwin had presented herself to a group of people in Nadroga in 2014 as a lawyer and pastor.

State’s first witness Napolioni Batimala gave this evidence in the trial of 14 accused in the Nadroga/Navosa sedition case which opened yesterday.

The accused all face  one count each of sedition and one count of committing a seditious intent.

A total of 16 people were originally charged. But two of the accused, Alifereti Gonewai and Raicula Rokovou have died.

The  remaining 14 are: Ratu Inoke Tasere, Jimi Koroibete, Seru Kunalagi, Adi Cuvu Gavidi Atama, Ulaiasi Rabua Tuivono, Peniasi Naqau, Semi Tanikili, Ratu Osea Bolawaqatabu, Ratu Tevita Khaikhainabokolawale Makutu, Mosese Navaci, Eroni Rikoriko, Alifereti Nakuinivou, Adi Vasemaca Veikunekibulu Gonewai and Jorama Ratulevu.

On October 10, 2014 the group allegedly committed an act with seditious intention and signed a document headed ‘Nadroga-Navosa Sovereign Christian State’, with the alleged seditious intention of bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the State.

Mr Batimala, 67, of Volivoli Village in Nadroga, answering questions from State Prosecutor Lee Burney, said he was part of a number of meetings held throughout 2014 in Nadroga which were called by the late Ratu Osea Gavidi.

He said the first meeting was held at the Catholic Hall in Qereqere Village in Nadroga where 10 people attended. He said the main topic was on development for youth in raising animals such as cattle, pigs and chickens.

He recalled the second meeting was held at Malevu Village where about 500 people attended. The initial discussions centred around the same development programmes.

Later Ms Kirwin called through a mobile to one of those in attendance and mentioned she was a lawyer and pastor and later, upon questions from defence lawyer Filimoni Vosarogo, said Ms Kirwin showed up.

“She told us she was sent by God to come to Fiji and uplift the standard of living of the Fijian people,” Mr Batimala said.

“She said other provinces had neglected her and came to Sigatoka hoping the Nadroga/Navosa province would accept her and her mission.

“She further stated she would look into the issues we were facing and raise the standard of living.”

Mr Batimala, upon further questions from Mr Vosarogo, stated she received some support from those present.

Towards the end of October 2014, Mr Batimala said another meeting was called at the residence of Ratu Osea at Cuvu Village where about 200 were present.

During the meeting, Mr Batimala said Ms Kirwin told those present that they were the “chosen ones” and could be appointed as ministers in the new Nadroga/Navosa Christian State that was being planned.

Mr Batimala said some of those who were appointed were in court and mentioned Adi Cuvu Gavidi Atama, Ratu Tevita Khaikhainabokolawale, Ratu Inoke Tasere, Mosese Navaci, Jimi Koroibete, Peniasi Naqau, Alifereti Nakuinivou and the late Alifereti Gonewai.

Mr Batimala told the court those appointed were blessed and anointed with Fijian oil by Ms Kirwin, spoken to by Ratu Osea and swore on the Holy Bible and gave an oath.

He agreed with Mr Vosarogo that because of the way Ms Kirwin spoke, the people, including him were convinced by what she was saying and thereafter was held in high regard by them.

“She told us that God had spoken to her and for her to explain to the people of what was to be done.”

Upon further questioning, Mr Batimala said Ratu Osea had called Australia and England and confirmed to them that she was a pastor.

On questioning from defence lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh, Batimala said he could not recall what the actual words of the oath were.

Detective Inoke Tui, a state witness, also gave evidence saying he had interviewed Ratu Inoke over the issue on December 16, 2014.

Reading the caution interview, Ratu Inoke said the indigenous people were being threatened by the Qoliqoli and Land Bills that were being introduced by the Government then.

Ratu Inoke had said in his interview that they were advised by Ms Kirwin that when they opted for their own state they were following the United Nations Convention on the Rights for Indigenous People.

Ms Sala Kunatuba is representing Adi Cuvu, Mr Vosarogo representing Naqau while Mr Singh appeared for the remaining 12.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Office is being represented by Mr Burney and Semi Babitu.

The case continues today.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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