By Kalafi Moala
Nuku’alofa: Increase in crime over the Christmas and New Year period, from 21 December 2020 to 4 January 2021, has been alarming in comparison with the previous year. As people returned to their jobs after the Christmas and New Year break, they are made aware that the arrests over this period were much higher than expected. There have been 230 arrests in what Police called Operation Finau, 53 more than the previous year.
Police reports that 20 of the crimes reported were serious, dealing with assault, theft, and housebreaking. 143 were minor crimes dealing with drunkenness in public places and disorderly behavior. 44 were traffic violations – drunk driving and speeding, and 21 were arrests in relation to domestic violence.
A total of 278 police staff were deployed during this period. Acting Deputy Commissioner Tevita Vailea said the police staff worked throughout the holidays to ensure peace and public safety was maintained.
Mr. Vailea also said that the recent operation was to prevent crime and protect the public, remove drunks from public places, and hold liquor licensees to account when license conditions were breached.
He said, “Criminal behavior will not be tolerated and Police will hold people to account for their disorderly behavior.”
The Police Drug Enforcement Taskforce also arrested 18 people (15 men and 3 women) from 11 different locations on Tongatapu between 16-31 December, 2020. They seized 572.68 grams of cannabis, 40.53 grams of methamphetamine, $6,400 pa’anga in cash, 645 bullets (.22) and drug utensils.
All 18 accused have been charged, and are to appear in court at a later date.
Vailea said these drug arrests showed that those who are seeking to profit from dealing in drugs can continue to expect to be targeted by Police.
‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki of Women and Children’s Crisis Center (WCCC), reports that during the Prayer Week (Uike Lotu), the Center has had to deal with two (2) high risk cases. “This required close collaboration between WCCC and Tonga Police,” she said. “In addition to this, a woman was hospitalized after being beaten by her husband, and a child required urgent attention from Police and WCCC.”
“We know that these are just the ‘reported cases’,” she said. “The un-reported cases, we suspect are 10 to 20 times more.”
“I was glad that a couple of prayer themes during the Prayer Week, to kick start 2021 included praying over social problems, families and safe houses,” said Mrs. Likiliki. “I was very happy that these themes were being prayed over by thousands of people all over Tonga during the 5 day Prayer Week.”
She pleads with the public for prayer and assistance as WCCC carries out their service in assisting women and children, and members of families who are being threatened by violence at home, sexual abuse, rape, and even those who suffer from neglect.