Opinion

Nemani Delaibatiki: Drinking Culture Gone Wrong… The Levuka Incident Highlights This

Police need public support to root out law breakers who cause fear and undermine peace and stability Offenders deserve appropriate punishment to act as a deterrent.
11 Nov 2019 16:00
Nemani Delaibatiki: Drinking Culture Gone Wrong… The Levuka Incident Highlights This
Officers from the Police Special Response Unit have been deployed to Levuka after officers based at the Levuka Police Station were attacked by a group of men. Photo: Fiji Police Media Unit

Opinon:

When people have the audacity to attack Police officers who are carrying out their duty to keep law and order, they deserve no sympathy.

In fact, they deserve no mercy.

Mercy should not be allowed to rob justice. Offenders must pay for their crime and realise that it does not pay to subvert law enforcement.

The ugly incident occurred in the old capital, Levuka, where a group of about 20 drunken louts allegedly threatened three officers. The officers had warned them not to drink in a public area.

The officers went back and returned with reinforcements that comprised Police, Corrections and National Fire Authority officers.

The drunken men resisted and a brawl ensued. While three men have been taken into custody, a Special Response Unit from its Nasinu base between Suva and Nausori arrived yesterday morning to stabilise the situation on the ground.

Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu was due to arrive in Levuka yesterday afternoon to speak to village elders.

The drunkards are understood to be from four villages on Ovalau.

A safety concern

The weekend public drinking is not new. Concerns have been raised in the past. Safety of women was especially highlighted.

It is sad that Levuka, a town steeped in history, where the country’s Deed of Cession to Great Britain was signed, is now saddled with this drinking problem.

Men, under the influence of liquor, undermine the security of the peace-loving and law-abiding residents.

The terror they cause should not be downplayed but highlighted as a major problem.

Mr Tudravu is a no-nonsense Police officer and does not mince his words.

Village elders must be told that such reckless and violent public behaviour is not tolerated and will be dealt with in the strongest possible manner.

Their responsibility is to pass this zero-tolerance message to all the villagers.

Mr Tudravu will also use his experience as the chairperson of the Tailevu Provincial Council to address issues related to this drinking problem and its impact on people.

Breakdown of law

It once again raises the question about the perceived breakdown of law and order in the villages. Some village by-laws ban alcohol and illicit drugs and take a hard-line approach when the rule is breached. Are the men drifting into towns to drink because of the ban?

Whatever the situation is, the bottom line is, no one is allowed to drink in a public place. That’s the law and people should respect it.

It is good to see the Police respond the way they have done.

The continuing incidents of people attacking Police are alarming.

The Levuka incident makes it five last weekend. That figure is unacceptable.

The increased Police presence there should be a warning to would-be offenders.

Police should be supported to nip this problem in the bud.

People should think twice before deciding to drink in a public place.

Secondly, they should not defy the Police when they are instructed to move.

Police are there to ensure that the law is followed for the protection of all people.

So many problems, emanating from alcohol-fuelled crimes, plague our communities.

Let’s hope that the Police operation in Levuka sets the example for the rest of Fiji. It should reinforce that Police are not weak or incapable in maintaining peace and order. This will help to strengthen people’s confidence that they can rely on the Police for their peace and safety.

The message should be clear: Follow the law and do not undermine Police work.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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