A couple of nights ago I was awakened by an employee (no names in this post) who told me that he was watching armed robbers rampaging through the house of a prominent Madang resident. He said that he had tried to get the police on the phone, but there was no answer. This is not an uncommon complaint. I tried several times and was just about to jump in the car to drive to the station when an officer answered who recognised my voice. He is the same cop who caught the kid who stole my camera from me on the street in front of my office.
I reported the ongoing incident and then drove to the station to make sure that a vehicle had been dispatched. I met there a somewhat scraggly looking guy, who I presumed (hoped) was a policeman. He said that a ten-seater had been sent to the scene. He opened a door to retrieve what appeard to me to be an ancient Enfield .303 army rifle from WWI. He then indicated that he wanted a ride in my car to the scene.
By the time we got there, the assailants had apparently fled. The police were walking around wishing that they had some light. I drove back home to fetch two powerful lights (Yanks call them flashlights. Here they are called torches.). When I got back, there were reports that some of the horrible creeps who beat up a woman in her house were hiding out in the surrounding garden waiting for a chance to escape.
The cops took my lights and left me walking around with a big rock in each hand. I find it very strange how reason departs and leaves one fearless (or foolhardy) if the anger level is sufficiently high. I was there with two mates who had heard from the victim and responded to help get things moving. We were all furious at the incident. I was going around looking for someone to bash and sincerely hoping that I would not find anyone. The guys had guns, but there are few manufactured weapons about. The homemade guns usually associated with our thugs are of dubious utility. Nevertheless, I’m not interested in testing their efficacy on myself.
What may be of interest to you is this photograph of the police officers who responded to the call (there were others). Meaning no disrespect at all to our Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, I can image that certain readers might be alarmed by their appearance. They are simply not what one expects to see when the cops show up at your house in the middle of the night:
In fact, they are nearly as scary as the criminals. It does help to understand that these guys really are here to protect us. Most of us are not in disagreement with the general operational procedure of, “Shoot them if you can. Capture and prosecute if you must.” There are a lot of very dangerous people around here. These fellows are our only defence, God bless ’em. But they are pretty scary looking for cops.
It hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that Madang is becoming an increasingly dirty, disheveled, poorly governed and dangerous place. The question remains: Is anybody going to do anything about it or do we simply hang on and enjoy the ride to hell?
Okay, enough of that. The victim is recovering well, heavily bruised, but otherwise unhurt. I just heard from a friend that two of the assailants are now in custody. This means that the remaining three will probably soon be caught, since the cops are very persuasive in their techniques of extracting information.
Let’s move to a happier subject. Last Saturday evening we had an American Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We’ve been doing this for many, many years. It’s always a good party. All of our guests arrived by boat. They then marched up through the yard to our house, leaving their shoes outside on the veranda, as is the local custom. Here are the happy shoes of the happy people inside our happy house:Lest we all develop diabetes from this sugary moment, let’s move on to some sun.
I like this telephoto shot from the middle because, if you click to enlarge, you can see many Flying Foxes returning from their nightly raid on the local gardens and rain-forest:
They will spend the day resting in the trees, screeching and droping fragrant fruit bombs on the unwary.