Six women are among 30 people arrested in connection to the violent riots at Vaisigano Bridge during the weekend.
Assistant Police Commissioner, Le’aupepe Fatu Pula confirmed the arrests during a press conference at the Apia Police Station, yesterday.
Le’aupepe said the riots were sparked by a fight between the youth of Apia and Matautu that erupted after the nightclubs closed on Friday night.
“It worsened on Saturday morning and it continued well into Sunday morning,” said Le’aupepe.
The Police investigation has also found that mothers were involved. Some of them were intoxicated.
“What’s shocking is that from what we’ve found out so far, the violence was instigated by adults,” the Assistant Commissioner says.
“They literally pushed the youth to join in the riot, which then resulted in the situation getting out of hand.”
The involvement of mothers is deeply distressing.
“Mothers should’ve been home at that time to tend to their children,” sayid Le’aupepe.
“They should be gathering their families for evening prayers and not encouraging them to join the violence.”
Twenty of 30 people arrested will appear in the District Court next Monday, 19 July 2011. They will face charges of being armed with a dangerous weapon and property damage.
On Monday, the traditional leaders of Matautu and Apia – Toomalatai and Seumanutafa – and their delegations met with the Minister of Police Sala Fata Pinati and Police Commissioner Lilomaiava Fou Taioalo to discuss the brawl.
The fight engulfed the eastern end of Beach Road – along Vaisigano Bridge – Friday and Saturday night.
Apia orator Tuiletufuga Siaosi Tuiletufuga – who spoke for both villages – said the youths involved do not belong to their respective villages.
“As far as we know, they are from other v
illages who have settled in our area. And we (Apia and Matautu) have decided that all those involved will be sent back to where they came from.
“We also want to assure the Police that we will not interfere with their work. Anybody that was involved in the fight, lock them up.
“We are ashamed of what has happened. Matautu and Apia are one village.
We assure the country that we will not stand idly by but will do our part as village leaders.”
“I’d like to assure government that this will never ever happen again.”
The two villages requested government to install streetlights along their inner roads, as according to Tuiletufuga, “these bad elements tend to congregate in the cloak of darkness.”
Minister Sala Pinati assured that Electric Power Corporation management will be directed to install the street lights right away.
“EPC workmen will be there in your villages working towards that end before the end of the day.”
The meeting was called by Minister Sala at his office to seek a remedy to continuing violence that has, according to Tuiletufuga “tainted the good name of our villages”.
Sala pointed out that government’s concern was with the destruction of private and public property and the poor image it has given the country as much of the fighting happened in front of Aggie Grey’s Hotel.
Over 30 people – mainly youths but also including women – were arrested by Police Saturday night and a sting raid – involving over 70 officers – early Sunday morning at Matautu.
Several officers suffered minor injuries during the street fracas Saturday night.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Maliegaoi said government is seriously considering readopting corporal punishment to discipline offending juveniles.
“It was administered by the Police during the colonial days and it worked. Perhaps we should go back to it.
“But the big question being, where were the parents in all this? Perhaps this is the result of going off to bingo every night with no one supervising their kids.
“Church leaders in these villages also have to do their part in improving spiritual guidance for these young ones.”
The Prime Minister thanked the Police and Fire Services’ quick response Saturday night and early Sunday morning.
The Police is reviewing its riot response and looking at investing in riot gear and training.