Court orders to investigate Tafua-tai landslide that killed 3 men in 2018

The Coroner, District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii 

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 08 SEPTEMBER 2020: The Court is continuing its investigation into a landslide that buried and killed three young men at Tafua-tai on 10 September 2018.

The Coroner, District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii adjourned the matter to 28 October 2020 for police to investigate further.

Alalatoa also instructed the police investigating officer, Sergeant Muamua Mapu to send an engineer to survey the area where the incident happened and ensure a report is ready when the matter is recalled.

The incident at Tafua-tai
Tafua-tai is known for its high hills and thick green foliage. In the Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Reserve, is a crater where people get black sand hat is popular for brick making. According to the Tafua-tai mayor, the sand is available for free.

On the 10 September 2018, several employees of businessman Kalapu Matini were mining sand from the area when a landslide trapped and buried 3 men and injured several.

A nurse at Tuasivi hospital informed police of a dead man’s body and several injured men at the hospital which prompted the police to investigate.

In the evening, two more bodies were recovered after machines were brought in to assist with the digging.

Sergeant Mapu gave evidence in Court yesterday that the 3 deceased were Davey Laloata, 42 of Tafua Tai, Meki Matau, 34 of Puipa’a and Satupa’itea and Fogalefatu Tiatia, 37 of Gataivai.

Someone should be held accountable for the incident
Sergeant Mapu was asked if he had questioned Kalapu over the safety of the area before his employees were sent to dig there to which Mapu said ‘no’.

Alalatoa then told Mapu of the importance of health and safety of employees and yet he failed to ask the most important questions.

“You cannot rule out foul play at such a critical stage. People have died and injured and the conditions the deceased were in when found, was terrible and someone has to be held accountable for this,” said Alalatoa.

She also made it clear to Sergeant Mapu that they cannot put it down as a natural cause of death or an act of God.

“It is not for me to recommend charges but I can cover that in my report,” she said.

She then asked Sergeant Mapu to send an engineer to survey the area where the incident happened.

The matter will be recalled 28 October 2020 at the Tuasivi Court in Savaii.

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