(Report by Police Media Officer Andrew Philip.)
Hela will change for the better, says a confident Provincial Police Commander (PPC) Chief Superintendent Joseph Tondop following the capture and arrest of four criminals wanted for a string of serious crimes in the province.
Mr Tondop said the suspects were arrested between the months of March and April, 2023 by the joint security forces in Hides and Tari in the Hela province with the assistance of communities within Hela.
Mr Tondop said the assistance police is getting from the people is indicative of a general desire of the people for law and order to prevail within the province. He has always maintained that law and order is everyone’s business, not just police. Upon taking command of the province Mr Tondop initiated major awareness campaigns to win the trust, support, and cooperation of the people.
The PPC said among the four arrested was the most wanted criminal (name withheld) believed to be from Pureni village, South Koroba. He was apprehended at the Tari market on Friday March 31, 2023 by police with the assistance of the PNG Defense Force personnel, acting from a tip off.
Mr Tondop said the suspect was wanted for escaping from lawful custody, Armed Robbery, Willful Murder, and rape. He was re-arrested and charged again for escaping from lawful custody in 2019 from the Baisu Correctional Services facility in the Western Highlands province. He is remanded in custody at Baisu and will appear in the District Court in May, 2023.
PPC Tondop said the other three (names withheld) were arrested and charged on Saturday April 1, 2023 at Paivali, Tari Pori check point with the help of PNGDF personnel acting on a tip off as well.
He said the suspects were from Tugupe village, Wai Linipini village, Hayapuga Local Level Government in Tari Pori district and Kupari village in Tari Urban. The suspects were wanted for wilful murders.
Mr Tondop said one suspect was taken to the Baisu Prison in the Western Highlands Province and the other three were taken to Buiyabi Prison in the Southern Highlands Province due to reports received of a possible “rescue” attempt by their criminal associates.
“The Security Forces will continue to enforce the law without fear, favor, ill-will, or malice. This is the right thing to do if Hela is to change. We will come down hard and enforce the law on criminals who think they are above the law. The law-abiding citizens have shown their support for the work of the security forces in the province and together we will change Hela.
“I am very proud of the performance and achievements of the security personnel where they have arrested and charged over 200 suspects from minor street offences to serious crimes in the last four months compared to zero arrest over 10 years,” Mr Tondop said.
The PPC said this was a major achievement in the key result area of law enforcement in the province. The security forces would build on this to effect full restoration of government authority and rule of law in the province. He said while the wheels of justice may be slow, they have now started turning in Hela.
Mr Tondop urged all citizens to rise up, unite, go home, and educate their families and clan members and support the work of security forces in the province.
He has also asked the public to provide the names and locations of criminals with high powered weapons in the communities to ensure that they and the weapons are removed from the various communities in Hela.
“Criminal behavior is abnormal in any society so we cannot allow criminals to continue to rule Hela through the barrel of a gun,” Mr Tondop said.
He added that a number of developments are taking place within the Hela Provincial Police Command to improve policing services within the province such as:
· The establishment of a toll-free number for the public to call should they wish to report a crime or seek police assistance; and
· The establishment of a Crime Information Management System and linked to a crime database. Support has come from its partners, especially the Hela Provincial Government. Preliminary work on this has started with the design phase is in progress.
The PPC said the future of the children of Hela is in the hands of educated citizens and leaders at all levels. He said children must grow up and get their education in a peaceful, safe, and secure environment.
Mr Tondop said no amount of input from any foreigner will change Hela but the love, time, commitment and cooperation of the Hela elites themselves will bring lasting peace, change and development to the province.