“Life behind the bar is life without freedom. It is stressful,” Ben Sale Tofalu told the gathering in Auki on Wednesday.
Tofalu who had spent almost 30 years behind bars was given the rare chance to speak at the anti-domestic violence and violence against women rally in the Malaita capital.
He was asked to speak about life in prison in a move designed to discourage men from committing a crime.
“Life behind bars is stressful with no freedom. I ask you to value your freedom. Don’t be tempted to get involved in violence which only leads to being behind the bar,” Tofalu said.
“It only takes a minute to commit a crime, that very minute will
put one behind bars for the rest of one's life,” urging men to stay away from crimes and enjoy your freedom outside.
Tofalu who comes from Baegu Asifola was convicted for murder as a juvenile at the age of 15. He grew up behind bars as a youth for the past 28 years.
He said many youths and men who are now behind bars committed crimes against women. “This is not good.”
Tofalu said while he and others were serving jail terms for crimes which they had committed, “we do not want to see other boys and men repeat the same mistake we did.”
He said men should love their wives as gifts from God and not to mistreat them.
“Your wives are meant to be your partner in the home, not enemies.”
Tofalu told the gathering that life behind bars is not normal.
“It is better to lead a normal life outside prison,” he said.
Tofalu said many men never realised their mistakes until they have walked into the prison. It is only then that they realised their freedom has been taken away from them.”
"By then it is too late to go back to leading a normal life. Once you are in there, you will never be part of the excitement outside a prison life.”
He said the stress level behind bars was very high forcing some inmates to depend on panadol to relieve their stress.
By WILSON SAENI
Auki News Bureau