R J Hauser’s poems of wisdom and humanity
Getting Old

Another innocent victim of a very cruel crime


LAE - He may have been hungry and desperate. He may have been dying to drink alcohol. He may have been just looking for luck.

He may have planned my day for this. Perhaps hiding in the thick grass, or behind the trees. Ready to pounce.

As I walked past, the street was quite empty.

There was one girl at the market table over the banis. Another walked behind me along the Pacific Helicopter fence.

A group of women further along gathered at the Steakhouse gate. And further still were some Guard Dog Security guards and other people warming themselves with betel nut and smokes around the market table.

He picked me at this very moment because it was just right.

He may have known me. I would be a familiar face, a local who had travelled to and from work for 10 years along this road. Whether on foot, in vehicles, alone or in a group.

I can say honestly, I had never been afraid of this piece of turf.

It’s commonly referred to as one of the hot spots for crime in Goroka town. It’s said to be inhabited by criminals.

But these were things beyond my experience.

I know there are some good and respected people who live here.

Talk about a few rotten apples spoiling the good ones.

Wednesday, 9 February, 2022, 8:30am: I had a rough, hectic morning trying to get my children ready for school so I missed the ritual of the pick-up bus and had to walk to work.

From Goroka town along the Airport Back Road to the PNG Coffee Exports office took me by Genoka settlement.

So yes, your turf. Just before you struck, I turned around and noticed the street was quite empty. Only the girl at the market table and the one behind me.

I continued a few steps. Then, in a split of a second I heard someone fall down, and when I turned around he held a small kitchen knife to my neck with his left hand, his right hand pulling at my orange leather bag. He had pushed away the girl behind me to get to me.

Sista, isi tasol givim me bag ya, nogat bai naif go insait long nek blo yu. Na noken singaut” ( Sister, give me your bag easily, if not I will stab your neck. And do not scream).

He spat out the words harshly as he pressed the knife into my skin. Our eyes met for a second and I hope he noticed the fear and pity in mine. All I could think about was my children.

He wore a black tracksuit, had a black mask up to his nose and grey woollen hoodie down to his eyebrows.

Everything happened so fast I didn’t know what to do. When he crossed over to the other side of the road, I stood there helplessly calling him in vain to give my bag back.

He told me to shut up as he made his way through a broken fence to freedom with his spoils.

My knees were weak, I was shaking all over. I wished it was a bad dream. I slowly made my way to the Guard Dog office and called my office to report the incident.

I went with Guard Dog Securities personnel to the crime scene to question the girl. She said she didn’t recognise him.

Still shaking, I went to the office. I had to work. I had to concentrate on doing the payroll accurately and promptly. Otherwise everyone would be mad at me.

My uncle helped me lodge a report at the police station and at about 1pm we received word that my bag has been found and I had to go to the station to confirm and get it.

I bet he had a good time spending my K80 cash, and the proceeds from selling my two phones and Noise Colorfit Pro 2 smart watch.

My ID cards, bank cards and diary were useless to him, so he left them.

I believe the boys who returned my bag were his accomplices, although they said they didn’t know him and that they found my bag in the bushes.

They also demanded that I pay them for finding and returning my bag so my uncle gave them K100.

I went home still shaken but grateful that I was still alive and without a scratch.

On the streets of Goroka town 2019 (Paul Wolffram)
On the streets of Goroka town, 2019 (Paul Wolffram)

I had heard about people robbed in public places but never thought this would happen to me in my hometown.

Goroka had been such a peaceful place. Since moving there from Mt Hagen in 2008, I had never encountered such a situation.

About two weeks before this incident, on the street where we lived next to the Goroka Bowling Club, one of our neighbours was returning home after a short evening walk when he was stabbed multiple times in the stomach. His phone and waist bag were taken.

Thankfully he survived. Nowhere is safe these days. Even on our own turf. We walk with fear all the time.

There has been an influx of people, especially from the upper Highlands, settling in Goroka.

Some have bought land and set up small businesses, some have come for employment and some just roam the streets and look for opportunities.

Every day the town, markets and streets are flooded with people. The number of youths roaming the streets causing social disorder sprout like mushrooms.

Petty crime, especially theft, is a daily occurrence. Innocent people become victims.

They have been hurt, traumatised and even died trying to protect themselves and their possessions.

One of the good things I noticed is the general public going after the culprits and dealing with them before handing them over to the police.

I believe the general population has had enough of all these bad things happening in our society. We all want to live and move around freely.

Another major issue is the consumption of illicit drugs in public places. This usually happens in the cooked food section of the main market.

Youths can be seen openly taking drugs and alcohol. There is also a rise in mentally unstable people on the streets. The cause may be drugs.

Police can be seen chasing drunken youths, especially in the evenings. On the street where I lived it was a common sight. But once the police leave, the gangs regroup and continue their evil business.

The general public takes precautions when moving around. Women and the elderly are the most vulnerable. They are advised to move around in groups or be escorted by males. By 6pm everyone needs to be at home.

Philip Kai Morre proficiently outlined the main causes of the lawless and ruthless behaviour of youths in his recent commentary, PNG youths trapped in the web of modernity.

This is a grave concern that will blow out of proportion if not addressed. The authorities and lawmakers must crack down hard on perpetrators so as to curb such law and order breaches.

Youths must be provided with avenues where they can be involved in empowerment activities with the collective support of NGOs, churches and social groups in the community. We must get them involved in community projects and establish rehabilitation centers for the addicted.

There are things that can be done at community level to help and control the behaviour of our youth.

They have to do something fulfilling to change their mindset to understand we all have a responsibility to live as decent citizens of this land.

I have now been in Lae for seven months. So far, so good.

But as usual I take precautions, praying and hoping I will not be a victims of crime again.


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Dominica Are

We never know whether we will be victims once we step out of our homes. But yes, taking precautions as usual. Thank you Phil and Fr Garry.

Much has happened and been said about these social disorders in PNG.

I appreciate the effort put in by communities in towns and cities where youths are involved in activities like town beautification projects, road works, street watch and sports.

More can be done to completely eradicate this problem.

Garrett Roche

Dominica, sorry to hear about what happened. I do remember you from Hagen times. Be safe.

Dave Ekins

A lovely sentiment, Phil. Dominica’s missive invokes 'Cry, the Beloved Country'.

Paul Oates

All journeys start with the first step. The problems are well known as are the answers. The real issue is one of leadership.

Perhaps this is the critical issue that PNG, as a nation, must confront. In the traditional villages, consensus was very important. Individuals were not encouraged to put forward their ideas unless they had first received notional support after what was often a theatrical performance.

Cultural change is never easy but in order to move forward and improve the perspectives of PNG's youth, a change in direction is desperately needed.

Planti lapun lo lain bilo mi ibin save lo dispela pasin. Tasol husat inap lo iharim displa toksave a?

Philip Fitzpatrick

Stay safe Dominica.

You're one of the old PNG Attitude / Crocodile Prize family and we all care about you.

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