Garden Hills Estate residents in Port Moresby are on a daily basis living in fear of being attacked, their properties broken into and assets looted, cars held up, or anyone being killed anytime.
The stories about experiences of being victims of crime are as old as the estate itself and one just has to type Garden Hills on Facebook to read the various deplorable accounts.
Others though have not shared theirs.
The pertinent questions today are what should law abiding and taxpaying residents do about it?
What is the municipal authority doing about this as the stories are no hidden secrets.
Should the residents live in fear and anxiety all their life?
Are there community or national leaders on any side who should grab the bull by the horn and address this scourge of criminality or otherwise find solutions to the problems?
A week ago a youth from the estate was reportedly stabbed by armed gang allegedly from the settlement area and a confrontation took place late Sunday.
It was mob retaliation and both groups were at each other but police intervened to quell what could have been a full blown war, triggered and exacerbated by continuous criminality that no one seems to make an attempt to end it.
Women, who live at the estate, are mostly in fear and on Thursdays and Fridays, it is almost mandatory that their male spouses escort them to the main Waigani bus stop near Kitpeng Building to board their work buses or company transport pick up.
When I moved to the estate in mid October 2019, my wife was held up one Friday morning in November when I was out on duty travel.
Six young men, who appeared intoxicated and drugged ran to her and put a knife to her at around 6.50am, swore and demanded she handed her back pack – one put his hand into her pocket and pulled out her Huawei dual SIM phone.
Our housemaid who lives at the settlement and knew these criminals could do little though she called their names.
They responded to her: “Bai yu mekim wanem.”
(What will you do)
The criminals ran up the hill, stood, smiled at my wife, waved and called back, Tata.
She got assisted by relatives of our housemaid and was only able to get her back pack and work access card back.
A police complaint was laid at the Boroko police station and they entered the settlement meeting parents of the criminals and reminded them to return the mobile phone but nothing was forth coming since then.
We don’t know if police has pursued investigations, arrested and charged these criminals.
If there are churches in the settlement, what are they doing?
If there are civilized and employed people living there, what are they doing?
Nelson, a youth leader at the Garden Hills Estate is responding by mobilizing youths to establish a Neighbourhood Watch Program.
Last Sunday, he met with the community and expressed what his visions are on behalf of his peers and he has set out his strategy.
Each section should have a group and leader and they would communicate through WhatsApp and Facebook to watch each other’s back.
How this would be ideally operationalised and sustained depends on how it’s planned and supported.
At the most its better to start somewhere to address it rather than doing nothing.
But in a nutshell the latest stabbing incident has prompted the community to step up its guard and exploring opportunities to end these unwarranted crimes against civilisation.
The family of the youth recently attacked has medical reports and a police crimes report, the younger brother has said.
The incident my wife endured has apparently traumatized her and in many instances she disliked walking the stretch of road from Moni Plus at Waigani Dr to our home.
Another female shared with me, among several incidents she was held up at gun point at her home by nine men while she was doing a mumu for the Treasury Department in 2018.
She just told them boldly to wait and when she finished, she allowed them to rob her home- getting whatever they wanted.
They may have been disoriented by the unexpected response from her during the initial act and moved nothing out of the house though they were in there for several minutes- maybe wondering around she said.
In essence, the Garden Hills Estate residents needed assistance to end these acceptable and undeserving crimes committed against them.
The municipal authority must come clear on how it is going to address it forthwith and it should act.
Employed taxpaying citizens should not live in fear and anxiety because there are law and order issues that the state could not address. Community leaders at the Garden Hills settlement should engage with the youths and leaders at the estate and forge a practical, plausible and realistic approach to weed out these crimes.
Together it’s possible but it must be forthwith-now!
If you have any suggestions or ideas on how communities, police and the municipal authority can approach this email firstname.lastname@example.org