Lautoka family claim police brutality; need case investigated instead of an apology

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Apenisa Buliyawa with his mother Virisila Ralaca and Rokovunisei Nakaibau at his hospital bed at the Lautoka Hospital. Picture: SUPPLIED

The family of Apenisa Buliyawa is disappointed with the authorities after the 26-year-old was allegedly assaulted by police officers at the Lautoka Market Police Post last Saturday.

Mr Buliyawa’s mother Virisila Ralaca alleged her son was assaulted by police officers after claiming he swore at an officer.

“He was returning from work and was on his way to board the bus but one of the officers stopped him and called him to the Market Police Post,” Mrs Ralaca claimed.

“When he entered the police post, he was taken to the back where there were three other officers and they immediately started punching him,” she claimed.

Mrs Ralaca claimed that her son did not know why they were punching him, and was pleading with them to stop.

She said Apenisa was seriously injured during the assault that resulted in his admission to the Lautoka hospital.

“He asked them to take him to the hospital but none of them helped him. One of the officers left him near the mall,” she claimed.

She said a man who saw him struggling then offered his phone so he (her son) could call her.

Mrs Ralaca said after hours of searching, they finally found him in a private car driven by another man who had stopped to assist him.

“We took him to the hospital later that night and that was when we found out how badly injured he was.

“He had a cracked rib and his lungs went really small. The doctor told us if we had waited a little longer he would have been in the ICU.”

She said they were extremely disappointed at the treatment of her son by the policemen.

“They have been trying to see us to apologise to our family,” she said.

“But we don’t want an apology. We want the officers responsible to be investigated for what they did to my son.”

Divisional Police Commander West ASP Iakobo Vaisewa confirmed a report had been lodged by the family of Mr Buliyawa.

“We can confirm the receipt of the report and I have directed the Divisional Crime Officer West for the CID team to take over the investigation,” ASP Vaisewa said.

“I want to personally assure the family that a thorough investigation will be carried out and that they will be provided necessary feedback on the progress of the investigation,” he said.