I’m not sure of the statistics but I’m sure everyone who has lived in Port Moresby has been a victim of crime one time or another in their lives. If you haven’t then you are either the luckiest person in the country, or it just hasn’t come around to you yet. It’s like death – its going to happen, you just don’t know when.
Anyway, in February I was robbed at gunpoint and my vehicle (my sister’s actually) taken with all my belongings including the office laptop, mobile phone and wallet taken. My laptop bag also contained my bank card, passport, driver’s license and National Identification (NID) card.
(I have applied for a new passport which should be ready on July 16.)
This all happened when I tried to drop off my cousin brother at his residence at 6 Mile.
Although this happened early in the year, I could not write about. Every time I did, I would get so angry that I was unable to form anything. It was like my mind would switch into a different mode, and all the words that formed up early became blank.
I have decided to share my story because I read about Ms Velma Ninjipa being shot after criminals tried to steal her vehicle. I did not suffer the same fate as her but I think we have to make it known to the leaders that crime is a major problem in the city.
How it happened
When I parked beside my cousin’s gate, I had not expected anything to happen. In fact I expected it to be safe. However, before I knew it, someone was already point a gun to my head and telling me to cooperate.
There were four of them and as soon as I got out of the vehicle, they emptied my pockets and took my wallet. It all happened so fast that before I could process what was happening, they had sped off. This happened around 8pm at night.
It was sheer luck that I grabbed my wife’s bag before they drove off. Inside was her wallet and mobile phones which we used to call friends and colleagues for assistance.
We managed to get the vehicle returned the next day thanks to help from the community. However, everything else was gone.
Why I did not fight
When friends and family found out what happened, they asked why I did not fight back given that I practice martial arts and I have always responded the same – you can’t use martial arts against a bullet.
It might sound funny, but its true. The main focus of martial arts in modern society is ‘self defense’ and it does not always mean using your fists. In fact, the simplest form of self defense is avoiding trouble and in some cases running away.
At the moment I had a gun pointed to my head, I had to value my life against whatever material possession that I had including the vehicle. It was a no brainer and I gave them the keys.
We were all unharmed and although we did not get all our properties returned, we were safe and well – that was main objective. However, I don’t know how things would have gone had I been younger.
Not my first encounter with criminals
This was not my first encounter with armed criminals and I’ve had several encounters with them including being stabbed.
I still have the scar on my hand as a reminder. This happened when a criminal tried to stab me near the Works Compound at 4 Mile. That area is notorious.
Then there was the time I fought with two criminals and broke one’s wrists. They both ran off in different directions. I followed the injure one but decided to drop the pursuit when he ran into a dark area behind the Yakapilin Flea Market.
Another time a gang held up my cousin and took his belongings as he was rushing to catch the late bus to Waigani from 4 Mile. They all ran away but we spotted a straggler and chased him until he ran off into the bushes of Jack Pidik park. Its was not that clear then and I believe we would have killed him if we had caught him.
These are just a few examples of my encounters with criminals, but it illustrates how bad crime in the city has become. I guess the only consolation I can get is that I am not alone.
I am not alone
As a victim of crime, I am not alone and there are thousands of Papua New Guineans who will attest to this. In fact many people have become so disillusioned with the justice system that street justice is often dished out when the public catches up with criminals like the pickpocket who lost his arm a few years back.
The fact that crime has risen so much has also prompted me to question why my tax should be used to feed and clothe criminals. I understand that it is the humane thing to do but is it really worth it.
When a robber or murderer gets fed, does he or she ever wonder who is funding that food. I doubt it but then again crime is a symptom of an unbalanced society.
Why crime rate is high (a personal opinion)
Personally, I believe crime is a result of the unequal distribution of our resources especially in the towns and cities. I mean the huge gap between the haves and have not is quite large alarming.
On one end of the spectrum you have people with all the luxuries and at the other extreme end are people with barely enough to survive the day let alone the week. And those of us who are caught in the middle are the protective layer between the two ends.
When those at the higher echelons look down, they see me and think “he is doing okay,” and they do not bother looking further down. Then those at the bottom look up they see me and assume I am at the top so they try to take from me. I am caught in the middle.
Anyway, I will end this rambling with a few safety tips.
- Minimize night travel. The chances be becoming a victim of crime increases especially during the night. I would recommend not traveling at night unless absolutely necessary.
- Never travel alone. It is always a good idea to have travel companions wherever you go in both day or night.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. This one is a bit difficult to do but try to maintain some sort of awareness of your surroundings. If you see a car following you, try to go around the block a few times and observe if they do the same. If you fee like someone is following you, take a different route and see what happens.
- Do worry about material things. When someone has a gun or knife pointed at you and wants your car keys, let it go. It is not worth getting hurt for something that can be replaced – you can’t.
- Get a tracker and dash-cam. If you have the money then investing in a GPS tracker will help if your car gets stolen by criminals. Also a dash-cam will come in handy if you need evidence.
The final tip is to not worry too much and enjoy yourself. Every time I was a victim I was shook up for few days, but then I got over it and continued as normal. There will always be that sense of fear and alarm but is must not control you, otherwise you lose perspective of your blessings.