SOME members of the Central Response Unit (CRU) at the Central Police Station enforcing the weekend curfew have been accused of entering family homes at Kukum and removed betel nut bags and taking cash.
The families affected have questioned whether the emergency powers allowed police to enter family homes and remove their belongings.
“They not only enter our homes and removed betel nut bags and cash, but they’ve also beaten up one of my neighbours,” Kukum resident Jeff Kali told the Solomon Star yesterday.
Kali claimed he was one of the victims of the Kukum incident when CRU members at the Central Police Station came around between 3am and 4am on Sunday morning.
“They entered a neighbour’s house whilst the family was sleeping, pulled one of them from his bed and started beating him up.
“We were fast asleep when we heard a group of police officers (CRU) shouting at our neighbour,” he said.
Kali said upon hearing the noise he got out of his bed and went out but still within the fenced compound to find out what’s happening.
“As I walked out of my door, one of the officers shouted at me and asked me what’s wrong with me.
“I told them nothing’s wrong but I was just wondering what’s going on outside.”
Kali said the officers then ordered him to go back into his house and so he did whilst they continued to beat his neighbour and took him into their vehicle.
He said after that the officers came to his house and ordered everyone to get out.
“At that time my wife and I were still in our room and my wife’s sister who was also in the other room,” he said.
Kali said he came out from his bedroom and sat in the living area but the officers kept on insisting that all of them should get out.
“As they kept on insisting for us to come out, they went to my sister in law’s room, pulled out her door cover and removed all the betel nut bags and our market products.”
He said one of the things that really got him angry was when they entered his room whilst his wife was still inside and flashed their torch at her while removing their market products and demanding money.
“Upon seeing what had happened, I started to question whether such actions are allowed under the COVID-19 Regulation.
“I thought the officers should only patrol the streets and not enter homes to remove people’s belongings.”
Kali said on Saturday evening at around 5pm he closed down his market because of the impending curfew at 8pm.
“Since the closer of Kukum market, we have been advised by the council to sell our betel nuts in our private homes and not on the streets. So that’s what we did,” he said.
Another victim Elama Lemata said they could not believe the actions of the officers.
Lemata said most of them relied on their betel nut markets for their daily living.
“We see them as robbers not as police officers because they went into our homes when we were asleep and took away our market products and even money,” she said.
She added their neighbour who was beaten and taken away was later brought back just before dawn but dropped off by the main road after he was interviewed by a sergeant at Central Police station and found him not breaching the curfew regulation.
“On arrival, our neighbour told us that the officers sold those bags of betel nut for just $100 per bag along their way and shared the money amongst themselves, including $400 they got from him.
“Is this what the prime minister ordered them to do in such a curfew period?
“We know and respect the curfew and so we stayed in our homes and yet they entered our homes and harassed us, after which they took away our market products.”
Lemata said if the government calls for working together in such situation then that action speaks otherwise.
She said they even removed the number plates of those three Land Cruisers and threatened us when we want to take pictures of them.
She called on the police commissioner to order a full investigation into the actions of his officers.
An email was sent to the RSIPF media unit and has already channelled through the bosses but no reply has been made yesterday.
Police Media Adviser Johnson Honimae told the Solomon Star that those affected should simply file a police case against those officers at their nearest police post.
Honimae said anyone who have complaints against police officers for what they have done in the course of their duties have the right to file a police case against them.
He added the police commissioner may issue a statement later today on the matter.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in his address on the mock curfew said a person should not leave or be away from his/her place of residence during the two mock curfew nights from 8:00pm to 5:00am.
“Person can only leave his/her place of residence in a case that there is a matter of urgency or emergency.
“Persons can be exempted in writing in compliance with this order by the Commissioner of Police and person exempted from compliant with this order includes a medical officer of the support staff working at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) including a member of support staff and a person engaged on contract to provide emergency services to the NRH,” he added.
He said other exempted persons are Quarantine officers and persons engaged on contract to provide security services at quarantine stations and of course a Correctional Service officer.
By IAN M.KAUKUI