NEWS

Abduction Claims False, Police Tell

Mass hysteria, unnecessary panic and anxiety. This is what sharing of false abduction claims and misinformation on social media creates, says renowned local psychologist, Selina Kuruleca.
25 Oct 2022 11:00
Abduction Claims False, Police Tell
Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho.

Mass hysteria, unnecessary panic and anxiety.

This is what sharing of false abduction claims and misin­formation on social media creates, says renowned local psychologist, Selina Kuruleca.

Her comments follow a Police statement about its initial inves­tigation report over an abduction claim in Lautoka that was widely shared on social media over the weekend.

Police investigations on the claims so far proved the allegations to be false.

Ms Kuruleca said the individual who gave a false report and state­ment needed to be investigated and charged appropriately.

“The other side of it, why did she feel and act as such? Maybe her mental health also needs to be eval­uated,” Ms Kuruleca said.

“This case also points to a larger societal problem, people looking for attention without any thought for the effects it may have on oth­ers, and for those that are actual survivors, it belittles their story and re-traumatises them.

“Unnecessary and sad, cowardly and immature. When you do some­thing, be ready for the consequenc­es whether you’re 8, 18 or 28.”

The alleged claims

According to the Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Siti­veni Qiliho, the case was of an 18-year-old sales assistant who was alleged to be forcefully drugged and taken to an unknown location by two men.

Brigadier-General Qiliho said their investigation into the case had so far proven the allegations to be false.

He said a report was received at the Lautoka Police Station claim­ing that while the young woman was walking towards a nightclub on Saturday night, a black car pulled over to the side of the road and allegedly forced her into the vehicle where she was allegedly drugged and allegedly taken to a house where she found herself naked.

She also claimed that another young girl was found in the same house also allegedly drugged by their kidnappers.

“Search conducted at the said house proved negative as there were no such findings to be made,” Brigadier-General Qiliho said.

Police investigation findings

Brigadier-General Qiliho said ac­cording to witnesses who had come forward, CCTV footage obtained and mobile phone records, inves­tigators have ruled out the claims made in the post.

“A 50-year-old man who saw the al­leged victim on the day after the ab­duction claims he saw her, had seen her walking along the road and asked where she was going, where she stated Lautoka city,” he said.

“He then proceeded to ask her if anything had happened, and she said she was abducted the day be­fore at around 5pm.

“The man then reported the mat­ter to her family whereby the mat­ter was referred to the Police.

“However, investigators have gathered information from one of her associates where she stated they finished work at 6pm, and were communicating with each other via phone up until 11pm where she had stated that she was outside a nightclub.”

He said the owner of a shop lo­cated in Saru, Lautoka told inves­tigators that he clearly recalled the girl after seeing her photos on social media as she had called into the shop with another young boy who frequented the shop, at around 8pm the same night of the alleged abduction.

“Police managed to track down the 19-year-old residing in Natabua, Lautoka who stated that he met the 18-year-old earlier in the day at her work place and agreed to meet later in the day at around 5pm.

“They met up with other friends where they began drinking, and later the same evening saw her in a nightclub.

“It is alleged that she had asked him if she could stay at his place as she could not go home as she was heavily intoxicated.”

Brigadier-General Qiliho further added that permission was sought from other family members where­by she went and spent the night in Natabua at the 19-year-old’s family home.

“Statements gathered from other family members is that she was with them until 7am the next morning where they had breakfast before returning home.

“According to the family of the 19-year-old, they were shocked to see the social media posts regard­ing her alleged abduction.”

He said based on these findings, Police would be investigating those involved in the initial social media post along the lines of ‘False repre­sentation’ under the False Informa­tion Act.

Fiji Council of Social Services

Executive Director of the Fiji Council of Social Services Vani Catanasiga said there have been at least three cases of the same mat­ter so far.

“That is enough cause for an in­vestigation by authorities as to why there are continuous claims about abductions at community level,” she said.

“At best it would finally put to rest all of the rumours and fear around this issue once and for all.”.

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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