NEWS

Heartbroken Mother Of Slain Police Officer Tells Of Pain And Loss Of Son

Drawing strength from her Christian faith and belief she said: “I will forgive the man responsible for taking the life of my son.”
23 Oct 2019 11:00
Heartbroken Mother Of Slain Police Officer Tells Of Pain And Loss Of Son
Makereta Koroi, 66, at her home in Muanikoso, on October 22, 2019. Inset: In happier days... Police Constable Siuta Niumataiwalu. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Makereta Koroi, the mother of slain Police Constable Siuta Niumataiwalu, yesterday spoke of the pain and agony over the loss of her son.

Heartbroken, she paused to hold back tears when she faced the media. The deeply religious widow and mother of five was asked whether she would be able to forgive the alleged killer. Drawing strength from her Christian faith and belief she said: “I will forgive the man responsible for taking the life of my son.”

Constable Mataiwalu, 24, is the first Police officer since the 2000 political upheaval to be mortally wounded in the line of duty, says Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho. Police reported that he was stabbed several times by a man who was bailed earlier by the Magistrates Court in Lautoka for alleged theft. The man also has three criminal cases pending in the Savusavu Magistrates Court.

It was 2am yesterday when Mrs Koroi’s phone rang.

Lautoka Police informed her that constable Niumataiwalu had been severely stabbed and was in hospital.

Ms Koroi, 66, of Muanikoso, between Suva and Nausori, said she started packing her things so she could be by her son’s side. Then, the phone rang again. This time the caller said her son had died at the hands of an alleged criminal.

Niumataiwalu was the youngest of five siblings. It was one year ago when he passed his recruitment course and became a Police constable.

He had cornered the man after a Police chase at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

Ms Koroi recalled the last time she had spoken with him was when he came to Suva to be part of his cousin’s Police passing-out parade last Friday.

In happier days... Police Constable Siuta Niumataiwalu.

In happier days… Police Constable Siuta Niumataiwalu.

“My Siuta was a good boy. He did not smoke, drink alcohol or grog. He was my baby. And he made sure he called me every chance he had got,” she said.

“I told him to ask his superiors to get a transfer to Suva. I was worried about him. I wanted to look after him. He just laughed.”

Ms Koroi’s husband Waisea, a pastor for the Assemblies of God church passed away in 2007 when Siuta was 12 years old.

“He finished his seventh form at Assemblies of God High School. He told me that he wanted to go to Fiji National University because that was where he felt he should be,” she said.

“In 2016, Siuta applied for the Police. I recall him getting up, wearing his nice clothes, his tie. But he was back two or three hours after telling me that he needed a driver’s licence to be part of the Police.

“I told him that we will try and get him one. And when he became a police officer last year, I was the happiest.”

Ms Koroi said Siuta had lately told her that he would buy a car just for the two of them. She said he had told her that he would drive her to church.

Now he would be buried on Saturday.

The alleged stabbing

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said Niumataiwalu was deployed with a team of investigators to attend to a separate case in Buabua, Lautoka.

She said upon leaving the Western Division Headquarters in Lautoka, another report was received regarding a 25-year-old suspect who was allegedly seen on top of the roof of a building in town in Lautoka.

The team pursued the suspect by car and by foot.

Ms Naisoro said Niumataiwalu managed to apprehend the suspect near the Churchill Park Grounds.

“In the process the suspect allegedly took out a kitchen knife and stabbed the officer several times. Niumataiwalu was rushed to the Lautoka Hospital, where he passed away this morning (yesterday).

The suspect was arrested at Churchill Park and is in custody at the Ba Police Station.

Lautoka Police Station Officer in Charge Assistant Superintendent of Police Tupa Talemainiusaladi said constable Niumatawalu would be remembered for his bravery and hard work.

Mr Taleimainiusaladi said the slain officer who was originally from Bau,Tailevu was a diligent worker throughout his one year and four months term of service.

“PC (Police Constable ) Niumataiwalu was a very intelligent officer and while he was still undergoing the On the Job training process known as OJT whereby officers who recently pass out would work with various units,” he said.

“ He quickly stood out for his knowledge of investigations, particularly in fraud related cases. He was based with the operations, CID and had been deployed on major drug operations in Keyasi and had achieved a lot since passing out in 2018.

“He was a quiet achiever and was focused on advancing his investigations skills as he grew to love working as an investigator during the OJT and he got along well with all his comrades and was very respectful of his senior officers,” he said.

No guns: Qiliho

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho says while he was deeply saddened by the tragedy, he does not believe that this is justification to arm the force with guns and ammunition.

“The late officer paid the ultimate price and, in his eagerness to answer the call of duty, he acted swiftly to apprehend the suspect and had unfortunately left behind the necessary equipment and accessories of his baton and capsicum spray,” Mr Qiliho said.

“A lot of what-if questions are going to be asked, people will ask what if he was armed?”

However, he maintained that his stance on arming the Police force would always be ‘no’.

“We have pepper spray, our batons and we are looking at possibilities of taser guns but not guns and ammunition,” the Commissioner said.

“We have issued pepper sprays to be used in such incidences and the training has been provided.”

He added with Fiji being a small country, the military would be the only armed institution.

“It was sad to find out about this incident. Personally, it is hurtful,” the Commissioner said.

A total of 186 cases have been recorded this year of Police officers being subjected to assault and criminal intimidation while on duty.

A total of 198 such cases were recorded in 2018.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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