In a statement, Acting Commissioner of Police - Chief of Operations, Jim Andrews, said he is now making the following internal transfer directives so that the Southern Highlands issue can be effectively addressed.
The changes are:
- Assistant Commissioner Kaiglo Ambane is transferred as Commander Southern;
- Assistant Commissioner Anton Billie is transferred as Commander Highlands Western End;
- Assistant Commissioner Allan Kundi is transferred as Assistant Commissioner Assisting the Police Commissioner;
- Chief Superintendent Joseph Tondop’s appointment as Provincial Police Commander Southern Highlands is revoked. He will remain unattached until further notice;
- Chief Inspector Gideon Kauke currently Station Commander Mendi is appointed acting PPC SHP;
- Chief Superintendent Paul Kamuai is appointed as Acting Commander New Guinea Islands.
“These changes will take effect immediately and will be in force until further notice,” says Andrews.
“In the transition period I have appointed Assistant Commissioner Operations David Manning to take charge of all police operations in the Southern Highlands Province.
“He will be assisted by Assistant Commissioner Sylvester Kalaut, Acting Assistant Commissioner Crimes Hodges Ette and a team of detectives, and Acting Director Special Services Division Superintendent Julius Tasion.
“They will remain in the province until Assistant Commissioner Billie takes up his post.
“As we speak two police mobile squads totalling almost 70 police personnel are now in the Southern Highlands Province together with a contingent of Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers.
“Another two mobile squads are on standby to be sent to the Southern Highlands Province should the need arise.”
Andrews said the police operations will be conducted in four phases and include:
- The insertion of the police personnel;
- Neutralising of threats and restoring rule of law;
- Public awareness and appeal;
- Investigations, arrest and prosecution of offenders.
“What occurred in Mendi, including the burning of the National and District Court buildings, the Commerce and Industry building, the burning of the Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft and the torching of Southern Highlands Governor William Powi’s residence, are unthinkable acts of violence which need to be addressed immediately,” stated the ACP.
“Two warehouses in Mendi were also broken into during the riot and tons of relief supplies looted as well. This poses serious concerns about the welfare of people affected by the February earthquake.
“These acts of violence and criminal behaviour are clear evidence that there are underlying issues which must be addressed by everyone, including the people themselves, and the various levels of leadership within the province.
“For the police we are treating these as criminal acts and will be taking appropriate and immediate action upon those who had participated in the destruction and burning of the buildings and the aeroplane as well as the looting of the relief supplies.
“I am appealing to the people of Southern Highlands and especially the leadership at the family, clan, tribal, village, electoral and provincial levels to cooperate with police and play their part in the restoration of peace and normalcy into the Southern Highlands Province, and more importantly, in arresting those responsible for the destruction and looting.”
(Acting Commissioner of Police - Chief of Operations, Jim Andrews, right, with Assistant Commissioner Operations David Manning, centre, and Assistant Commissioner Sylvester Kalaut)