A mother of five says she feared for her children’s lives during an attack where untitled men of her village are alleged to have stoned their home, and attempted to torch their shop. Their personal belongings and shop supplies have since been ransacked and stolen, and their farm destroyed.
Atalelei Fa’apito said she had to lie on top of her 4-month old baby as rocks came through the windows of their home. Her other four children screamed as rocks hurled through their home, the sound of banging as rocks hit the outer-boards of the house and landed on the roof frightening them.
Atalelei said she thought they were all going to die as she and her husband realised their attackers were not going to stop.
“We kept moving from room to room with the kids, but they kept on hurling rocks at us it was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced..
“I wrapped up my baby and we ran for our lives next door seeking refuge with our neighbours.. that’s because each time we moved to safety, we could hear the rocks getting closer,” said Atalelei.
The family of Atalelei Fa’apito were officially banished from their village of Faleu Manono last week, when an orator had formally conveyed a village council decision to them. (Tu le tootoo).
According to Atalelei, the village decided to banish them because it had been discovered their family had not supported the village’s chosen candidate, who had been unsuccessful at the April 9th general elections.
Atalelei said her elderly father did immediately move out of Faleu.. out of respect to the village decision. However, she said it was not possible for herself and her husband to vacate their family home, and leave behind developments they had established such as a shop, a sheep farm (pa mamoe), and koko for export.
“Last night was a nightmare,” said Atalelei. “I thought my children and I were going to die..”
“They lit kerosene bottles and threw them towards the shop and the side of our house.. but when they saw parts of the building catching fire they ran back and put the fires out,” she said.
“Our neighbors could see the danger and called out to us.. so we ran for our lives,” shares Atalelei, unable to hold back tears.
In response to questions from SGN, Deputy Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo confirms the incident happened on Wednesday night. He said Police were called and immediately began their investigation that continued into the next day.
“No, we have yet to make an arrest,” said the Deputy Police Commissioner.
He confirmed the family home at Faleu, Manono was allegedly stoned and preliminary investigations suggest the actions were taken by untitled men of the vilage as a result of a dispute.
“Police were called last night and have again returned to Faleu Manono this morning,” said Auapaau.
Speaking to Samoa Global News from New Zealand, Atalelei’s sister Miriama Faapito broke into tears as she shared the horror of hearing her sister and her nieces and nephews cyring out for help on Wednesday night.
“My sister called during the stoning and I could hear my nieces and nephews shouting “help us, we’re going to die“”.
“Lucky the neighbours told my sister and her husband to run over with the children,” Miriama said crying on the phone.
“I thank God that my sister and her children are safe, especially my sister’s 4 month old baby”.
The next day, the abuse towards Atalelei and her family continued as their shop and home were broken into, and their sheep farm (pā mamoe) destroyed.
Miriama has sent money so her sister in Samoa could hire a lawyer.
Atalelei said she is now looking for a good lawyer to fight for their rights, seek compensation and ensure the perpetrators of the attacks on their family are brought to justice.
“It is heartbreaking to see all our belongings ransacked and stolen, and all our hard word from our small business developments all destroyed,” she said.
“Someone would be ready to start a shop of their own, or set up their own pa mamoe with the things that have been taken from us..,” said Atalelei.
This is a developing story..