Judge: Public servants must not steal

Public servants are appointed to very senior positions to serve the people of Papua New Guinea, not to steal from them.

They are entrusted with the responsibility to perform their roles with utmost honesty, to deliver the goods and services to the people and not go into business themselves.

This was stressed by Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika today when he sentenced a senior public servant from the Wabag District Treasury Office, and a Civil Works coordinator, to eight years in prison with hard labour.

The Waigani National Court sentenced Esther Ere and Josiah Nathan to eight years in jail after they were convicted for dishonestly applying K4.45 million to pay for political support between 31 March and 30 September in 2012. 

The funds misused were withdrawn from the Wabag District Services Improvement Trust account on the pretext of building a market and maintaining roads and bridges in the district.

Instead, the monies were paid out to individuals with ghost names contained on a labour list, who resided at a guest house in Wabag during the election period.

The court found that the monies were paid to supporters of a particular candidate to gain their votes. 

As a result, the Wabag market remains unbuilt and people continue selling their market produce on the road side.

The Deputy Chief Justice says development is retarded when public servants steal or misuse money for other purposes; a stern punitive sentence is called for when sentencing them. 

“In this case, Esther Ere and Joshiah Nathan had a very high degree of responsibility to the department and the people of Wabag and Enga,” Sir Gibbs said.

Sally Pokiton