Mystery Surrounds Pauliasi’s Death By Drowning In Naselai

Pauliasi Ratunawaqe is believed to be the country’s latest drowning victim.
24 Jan 2021 12:50
Mystery Surrounds Pauliasi’s Death By Drowning In Naselai
(From left: Kali Jane, Taina Nino, Uraia Lagilagi, Sakenasa Rakaria and Ben Colodonu at the swimming spot where Pauliasi Ratunawaqe drowned. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Different stories have surfaced on how a 13-year-old boy of Naselai Village in Tailevu allegedly drowned on Friday afternoon.

Pauliasi Ratunawaqe is believed to be the country’s latest drowning victim.

According to Police, the Year eight student of Nuku District School had gone swimming with friends. When he tried to jump onto a bamboo raft from a nearby tree, he fell into the Naselai River and disappeared.

However, when the Fiji Sun team visited the village yesterday, witnesses at the scene told a different story of what allegedly transpired on that gloomy day.

Kali Jane, 14, said after finishing house chores, she accompanied a group of boys to the nearby river, however she did not swim.

The group were jumping from a tree into the river. Jane said two boys aged 16 and 18 who were also part of the group told Pauliasi to dive or else he would be punched. The boys dared him to jump without hitting a floating bamboo on the river,” she said.

Pauliasi Ratunawaqe.

Pauliasi Ratunawaqe.

“When he jumped from the tree, he hit the bamboo in his groin, and fell into the river,” Jane said.

“The two older boys laughed and swore at him for missing the mark.”

Jane said she saw Pauliasi’s hand surfaced out of the water twice asking for help.

She called out to the other boys to help Pauliasi but they were threatened by the two boys with punches and abuse,” she said.

“They kept saying that Pauliasi was just pretending to drown,” she said.

Meanwhile, Jane’s younger brother, Uraia Lagilagi was already in the water when Pauliasi dived in.

“I looked up and saw them talking about Pauliasi so I dived back to get him,” said Uraia.

“I felt his neck and just when I was trying to pull him out, the two bullies threw sticks at me and that’s when I lost my grip on Pauliasi. He drifted away and disappeared.”

The children said that the two boys did not allow anyone to go after Pauliasi or run for help in the village.

“They were too big for us and when we tried running to those playing volleyball nearby, they kept blocking us,” said another witness, Ben Colodonu.

They said about 30 minutes later, Taina Nino, 13, who came to the swimming spot noticed something was wrong.

“I arrived with another boy and I saw the two boys saying not to say anything to us and that’s when Kali told me about Pauliasi,” she said.

Kali was also part of the swimming group.

“When we ran for help, the boys scattered from the scene and told Police a different story.

Parents, Wati Talaimaitoga and Pauliasi Ratunawaqe Senior were mourning the loss of their fourth child.

“He was such an obedient and matured boy for his age and it still feels unreal knowing that he is longer with us,” Ms Talaimaitoga said.

“During the school holidays, he would go out on his own to fish or look for mussels to sell along the roadside without being told, he did this from his own initiative.

“Junior wanted to become a Police officer and I miss him so much,” said Mr Ratunawaqe.

The family is planning to have the funeral on Saturday.

Police investigation continues.

Edited by Selita Rabuku


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