Public Uproar Over ‘Abduction’ Claims In Labasa

An alleged attempt to abduct a teenage girl in a taxi in Labasa has created a big public uproar. The outrage has been led by a Cab­inet minister, two chiefs,
03 Sep 2018 12:20
Public Uproar Over ‘Abduction’ Claims In Labasa
A teenage girl was alleged to have been abducted in a taxi in Labasa recently.

An alleged attempt to abduct a teenage girl in a taxi in Labasa has created a big public uproar.

The outrage has been led by a Cab­inet minister, two chiefs, the Fiji Taxi Association executive as well as members of the public because this is not the first time this type of incident has happened.

The victim, 15, is recovering at home with injuries after she jumped out of the taxi. Police are investigating.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa said the Government alone could not eradicate social ills.

“Fiji stands very high when we compare our statistics with other countries worldwide. We have one of the highest numbers of sexu­al assault of women and sexual violence against women and chil­dren,” she said.

“With women now being abducted in taxis, this is very alarming. This story should raise awareness among public service transport providers that they are there to give safe ser­vice to the public.

“Remember with every criminal activity there are consequences, so refrain from involving yourself in criminal activities.

“The Government is doing a lot in preaching about it and putting in place programmes to alleviate this problem.

“The Government can’t do it alone. We need the communities; we need the church to stand by the efforts of the Government so that we spread this message across to every family, every church and every religious denomination.

“We are all saying the same mes­sage to our children, brothers and sisters and the hope is that one day we can get through and will be able to fight against this evil in our soci­ety,” she said.

Fiji Taxi Association president Rabhen Bhan Singh described the alleged incident as “shocking and saddening”.

He said safety was paramount when taxi drivers provided services to members of the public, adding that there had been similar cases before.

Taxi drivers guilty of the offence, he said, were painting a negative picture about the industry.

“I will be travelling down to Labasa to have a meeting with taxi drivers on this issue,” Mr Singh said.

A close relative who wished to remain anonymous said the 15-year-old girl boarded the taxi at Subrail Park while returning from the Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North.

She said the victim was still traumatised.

“With all her trust she boarded the vehicle, she told the driver of the place she wished to get off,” the relative said.

“They were telling stories with the driver who seemed kind and trustworthy at first. She knew that he would take her home safe and in front of their doorway.

“However, her trust fell short when the driver drove past her home. She told the driver that he had passed her destination, but the driver continued to drive,” she said.

She said the victim sustained injuries as she jumped off the vehicle.

“She was frightened because she had read, heard and watched on the news of women’s or young girls being taken to the cane field and being raped,” the relative said.

“This makes us question the safety of the taxi services in Fiji. I could not hold myself back when I heard about the incident.

“She jumped out of the vehicle when the driver did not reverse to take her back to where she asked to get off.

“She has few scratches on her face and other parts of the body. She fractured her hands because she placed pressure on it when she jumped off the vehicle.”

Confirming the incident, Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said the investigation file has been sent to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) for sanctioning.

The suspect had been questioned and released as the file was forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“I urge members of the public to lodge reports with Police on any incidents they may face or come across so the Police are aware of it and the people responsible for such acts are taken to task,” she said.

Tui Wailevu Ratu Aisake Botei said elders in the village were always reminding young ones not to board taxis alone.

“This issue is very common in Labasa. Every year, we hear that a young girl was assaulted or raped by a taxi driver in the canefields,” Ratu Aisake said.

“This is the reason we advise young ones not to board public service transport alone at night. If strangers ask them if they need a ride, say no.

“We need the media to publish the latest incident so it could be a wake-up call for all Fijians.”

Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere said taxi drivers must ensure that passengers reach home safely.

“The passengers trust you (drivers),” Ratu Wiliame said.

Edited by Epineri Vula



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