NEWS

Shine a Light: Surviving Crew Tell of Horror

Without thinking, he used an axe to behead Qiritavabea Cagilabakomeli. It took only one swing from the back of the late Mr Cagilabakomeli’s head. The alleged killer then forced four other crew members to jump overboard. They were without lifejackets. What led to the tragic fate of five crew members on board the Tiro II fishing vessel, and to this day remains a mystery.
13 Mar 2022 13:00
Shine a Light: Surviving  Crew Tell  of Horror
One of the surviving crew members of the Tiro II. Photo: Fiji Navy

The sea was rough. The alleged killer of a Tiro II crew member was unforgiving.

On the deck of the fishing vessel, five of the eight crew members were oblivious to their fate. It was Wednesday night, May 19, 2021, between 8pm and 9pm.

It was just another night on the grind.  The crew members reeled in the fishing net on the side of the boat. The alleged killer presumed his workmates planned to kill him.

He went on the offensive and attacked first.

Without thinking, he used an axe to behead Qiritavabea Cagilabakomeli. It took only one swing from the back of the late Mr Cagilabakomeli’s head.

The alleged killer then forced four other crew members to jump overboard. They were without lifejackets. What led to the tragic fate of five crew members on board the Tiro II fishing vessel, and to this day remains a mystery.

What also overcame the alleged killer remains unknown. It is believed that an argument had erupted between Mr Cagilabakomeli and Mitieli Cama.

But one of the survivors said there was no argument. Shine a Light approached the three survivors of the horrific incident.

They all spoke on the condition of not being identified and insisted that it was now a Police case, and they wouldn’t divulge any more information.

To them, it was just like yesterday. Tiro II had eight crew members. The vessel left Millers Wharf for a 14-day fishing trip in the Mamanuca waters.

It was a smooth sail with the crew gelling well – only two were new to the work.

But things took a wrong turn on the third last day of the fishing trip, with five of the crew members never to see their family again.

Investigation

Police have yet to make an arrest regarding the incident. The incident happened in the Mamanuca Waters, 143 kilometres West of Nadi.

It’s been 10 months. Shine a Light has been reliably informed that there is no direct evidence to lead the investigation.

However, Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said they were still investigating the case. The vessel belonged to Green Tuna Company, a locally-based Korean-owned company.

It sank two days after the incident, on Friday 21 May, after taking in water.

Those involved

There were eight crew members on board the vessel – five Fijians and three Indonesians.

The victims were:

  •  Alfat Kodri (Chief Officer/Cook);
  • Eme Warma (Chief Engineer);
  •  Benjamin Semuel Mattaputty (Captain);
  •  Qiritavabea Cagilabakomeli (Crew); and
  •  Samuela Sukera (Crew).

The three who survived and are suspects in the case are:

  •  Mitieli Cama (Bosun);
  •  Kaminieli Tacama (Crew); and
  •  Tevita Qaqa Kapawale (Crew).

 

to read the full account from our Shine A Light Investigative Reporter and Editor Ivamere Nataro by subscribing to the Fiji Sun e-edition.

If you have MPAiSA you can subscribe and only pay $1 to access the entire paper. Debit and Credit cards can also be used.

Support local journalism and subscribe to our e-edition.

  • Shine A Light is the Fiji Sun Investigative Project

Feedback: ivamere.nataro@fijisun.com.fj 



Got A News Tip


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


WEET BIX
For All Fiji Sun Advertising
Fijisun E-edition
Subscribe-to-Newspaper