COVID-19: Fiji Police Crack Down On Lautoka Border Breach

Help us and we’ll help you, Commissioner Qiliho tells public. But he warns that the full force of the law will come down heavy on those who try to breach the border security in Lautoka
23 Mar 2020 09:15
COVID-19: Fiji Police Crack Down On Lautoka Border Breach
Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete (left), and Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, at the Office of the Prime Minister in Suva on March 21, 2020. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho yesterday made an impassioned public plea – help us and we’ll help you.

He also warned that anyone who made any deliberate attempts to breach the border in the Lautoka confined area would face the full brunt of the law.

Reports from the various divisions noted that members of the public continued to take matters into their own hands.

But Police officers are handling it well, he said.

“Everyone needs to understand the seriousness of the issue and do what Government, health officials and officials from the World Health Organisation are saying.”

Yesterday, a man in his 50s had been charged with one count of disobedience of lawful order for allegedly breaching the conditions of the Lautoka confined area restrictions, while eight others were arrested for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 restrictions in the confined area.

The suspect charged, a boat captain from Yanuya Island, was apprehended by officers while trying to ferry two people from Viseisei, Vuda out of the confined area.

The eight men arrested included four fishermen from Ba who were intercepted by a Coastal Patrol team in Nacilau waters, three men from Nalawa, Yasawa who were arrested along the Viseisei Beachfront for trying to get into Lautoka and a 31-year-old woman who entered the cordoned off area via sea from Nadi.

Mass gatherings

Brigadier-General Qiliho was pleased with the response from major church leaders yesterday

However, he noted that a handful of smaller churches were still found not following the precautionary bans.

“I have advised our officers that have called to report this matter to go and advise them and talk to them on the directive that has been given to gather for only 20 or less.

“We are concerned with some of the things we see on social media whereby people are still congregating and not understanding the seriousness of the situation at hand and that’s all we are pleading with, that people be responsible about what we are going through.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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