NATION

Qiliho defends officers, refutes drowning claims

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has defended his officers and refuted claims that they did not want to help save drowning victim Ratu Jope Sigaruarua in Saweni, Lautoka recently. The
16 Jan 2018 15:18
Qiliho defends officers, refutes drowning claims
Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has defended his officers and refuted claims that they did not want to help save drowning victim Ratu Jope Sigaruarua in Saweni, Lautoka recently.

The claim was made in a Fiji Times article.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said: “This is not true. We have two witnesses who have given sworn statements saying that the victim had been jumping into the river four times earlier.

“On the last jump, he wanted to pull one of the witnesses with him, but she didn’t jump in.

“The Police team that was returning from dusting the vehicle that escaped prisoner (Deshwar Kishore) Dutt was in saw them and stopped to enquire why the victim was swimming in the known dangerous spot. The victim had been waving at them.”

The women there told Police that he had been doing this previously and they shouldn’t worry about him.

“The ladies told the Police he was just joking around so the officers got back into the car and they were only a few metres away when the witness ran after the vehicle,” he said.

Commissioner Qiliho said the officer returned to the scene, but couldn’t see him.  He also said a former Navy diver from South Africa had also joined the group that had gathered.

“A diving expert, a resident of Saweni and former Navy personnel from South Africa who is also a qualified lifeguard came with his wife.

“His wife had asked him to jump in, but after he looked in and saw the current, he told his wife that he wouldn’t take the risk.”

Brigadier-General Qiliho said there were also claims that there was only one officer present.

“There were six altogether, but only one  was in uniform. This was a search so they came dressed in gear that was practical and in fact one Police officer brought his own fibre glass boat and used his own fuel to help  in the search.”

Brigadier-General Qiliho said people from the area stated that there had already been 25 drowning accidents at the same spot.

He said that the Police Force was now pursuing legal action.

“We are now looking into the relevant laws and legislation to take the said newspaper to task.”

Fred Wesley, the Editor-in-Chief of the Fiji Times, was asked to comment. But his response did not arrive before this edition went to press. Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  lusiana.banuve@fijisun.com.fj



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