Drugs Suspected in Fish Market Machete Attacks

The black car driven by Tagaloa as he drove off in a rage, returning with a machete. SGN were at the scene during this first incident that day.


Samoa police had attended to a scuffle between the fish market attacker and his victims earlier that Saturday afternoon, before he drove off angrily and returned with a machete.

Samoa Global News was on site just after the first fight at 1.30pm Saturday in the car park of the fish market, and caught these images of the accused driving off angrily in his black car, seen here with a smashed windscreen which police say is unrelated to Saturday’s incident.

The black car driven by the Savalalo Fish Market attacker as he drove off, returning later with a machete.
The fish market machete attacker driving off in a rage after a scuffle with the man he would later return to butcher.

Still in a rage, he would return in less than 20 minutes with a machete he then used to slash at two men who witnesses say are likely to have owed their attacker drug-related money.

The Samoa Police Service (SPS) confirmed in a press statement that the man has been arrested, and charged with two counts of causing serious bodily injuries.

Several video clips which have gone viral on social media shows the suspect armed with a machete in a vigorous tussle with two men who witnesses say are regulars at the Savalalo fish market.

“The older one is Molegi and the younger brother is Iosua. They come here all the time especially when the fishing boats come in. The younger brother works on that fishing boat right there”.

The fishing boat seen in the video. The younger of the 2 victims works on this fishing boat.

There are several fish-market-seller-theories about the motive behind the viscous attacks at the “makeki i’a” – well known to them as their workplace for the past many years, even decades for some.  All of their theories, shared cautiously in fear and not wanting to be involved – points to drugs.

“We heard.., its drugs, and we heard.., it’s a debt..you know, money owing to him”.

“Makou faalogo..o le aisa, makou faalogo.. o aikalafu..o le kupe owe ga alai oga ika le kama..”.

Another fish seller speculates that the man was angered because he was supplied with a packet of salt (masima saiga) instead of ice, and was there to demand his money back. They also felt that he was ‘high’ at the time of the attacks.

The two injured men are well known and regulars at the Savalalo fish market, especially when fishing boats return, as one had done so that Saturday morning.

“O kamaiki lava e fai mo lakou ī – ae maise lava pe a a’e mai vaa fagoka”.

Witnesses say they all knew about the first scuffle between the men, and, “if only the police had taken them all away then…”

One of the injured men, Molegi is seen here butonning his shirt after the first scuffle with the attacker.
SPS officers speak to Molegi as the attacker drove off in his car after the first scuffle.

Women seen everyday selling fish at the market, say they packed up early last Saturday, in shock and in fear of what they’d seen, and the voice heard over the video clip screaming, “Aua, aua” – was one of them.

“O Maselina lenā e tauvalaau, “aua, aua” –  e valaau atu lava i tua ii ma savali atu e vaai le mea o loo tupu. Sa vave lava ona matou tapena ese i lena lava taimi, ua matou fefefe”.

When the attacker returned in his black car, they parked along the front side of the fish market next to nearby shops, and a woman was seen waiting inside the car.

“She sat in the car, while that big guy came out holding a very large machete and started to chase down the two men”, said one shop owner.

“They fell onto the docked boat, leaning on the boat as they struggled, and then Molegi fell into the ocean, his leg and back were severely injured”.

“But Iosua had a big gashing wound on his neck and you could see it open with blood everywhere”.

Just before Molegi was struck in the leg and back by the man holding the machete. Molegi then and fell into the ocean.

One of the women fish sellers says she had called police during the attack, using Ph 22222 but found the experience frustrating because they had so many questions for her, but she was panicked, trying to tell them about the urgency of the situation.

“Ola se kele o fesili, ao lea ta te fai atu iai, omai loa i le makeki i’a..omai loa o lea ua oki le kagaka!”

When the two victims were down, the attacker walked back through the fish market to his parked car.  He placed the machete back inside the vehicle, and drove off.

Nearby stall owners say his face was red with rage, and walked through the fish market like something out of the movies – still holding his machete that looked to be brand new.

“Se a e vaai iai, e mu uma maka. Ae pei o se kama o le aka le laa mai o le kagaka ma legei sapelu umī, oka se sapelu.. pei o se sifi le kagaka!”.

Witnesses say a police car arrived just as the man was seen putting his weapon back into his car, so the police vehicle u-turned and followed the attacker’s car as it left the crime scene.

An SPS press statement confirms that the Savalalo Fish Market Attacker has been remanded in custody until the 22nd of June 2020 for mention.

Both male victims were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Motootua Hospital, with serious multiple injuries sustained from this vicous attack.

Police say a thorough investigation is being handled by its Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

Sina Retzlaff