Witnesses claiming they were bribed prior to casting their votes at the 9th April general elections, tell the Court how they sought out candidates, to ask for “beer” and “faalavelave” money.
Elected candidate for Faasaleleaga 2 constituency, Magele Sekati Fiaui is facing six counts of bribery, one of treating and one of illegal activities lodged by veteran Member of Parliament and former HRPP Cabinet Member Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow.
The case continued to its third day with witnesses taking the stand to give evidence on alleged bribery, however, most of them told the Court that they approached election candidates to ask for money.
A witness for the petition by Gatoloaifaana, a matai by the name of Valeni Faitasia Taualoaia of Vaifou Iva, told the Court he and a close friend went looking for election candidate Magele Sekati, “to ask for beer money” on a Saturday morning.
“I was drinking [alcohol] on Friday night, and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I wanted to drink some more;
“So my close friend who owns a car said we should go and look for a candidate (sui tauva)”.
Valeni told the Court they did not know Magele Sikati, but went searching for his home at Safua, because he was an election candidate.
“We wanted to get to know him (faamasani),” he said.
According to Valeni, when Magele saw an injury to his leg, the candidate gave him $100 tala.
“While we were talking Magele saw my injured leg and asked about it, and I told him that’s the other reason we came, for money to take me to the hospital,” Valeni said.
He told the Court he spent the $100 tala on alcohol and gave $45 of the change to his friend.
When cross examined by Magele’s lawyer Fetu Lagaaia, Valeni admitted it was wrong to persuade money from a candidate.
Another witness, Ioane Tomasi Samuelu, told the Court he and a friend were driving to Safua to get money from Gatoloaifaana’s son, Vaelua Faapoipoi, when they met up with Magele Sekati. He said Magele gave them $60 tala after his friend asked him for money, for a faalavelave.
Magele Sekati Fiaui, 35, is represented by Alex Su’a and has also filed a counter-petition alleging 6 counts of bribery against Gatoloaifaana. Magele’s case is being presented in Court today, with 10 witnesses against Gatoloaifaana. In Court today, one witness testifying against Gatoloaifaana also told the Court he went to the candidate’s home to ask for money.
The first few witnesses called by Su’a testified to discredit the petitioner’s witnesses against Magele.
In Gatoloaifaana’s petition, witnesses had pointed to Magele donating to the construction of a new Women’s Committee Fale Komiti, as well as giving $1,000 tala to a traditional dancing tausala fundraiser he was asked to taualuga (perform the final dance for). A matai also testified he was influenced by a $50 tala note given to him by Magele with a message to ‘remember the eleciton’ (manatua le palota). Magele’s mother, Taumaloto Fiaui testified on behalf of her son, telling the Court she had given the $50 tala to that matai because he is a relative of hers.
The case continues in the Supreme Court today (Wednesday 9th June 2021) before Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese and Justice Tafaoimalo Tologata Leilani Tuala-Warren presiding.