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Has Fiji’s police chief fallen out of favor?

January 24, 2015

No longer doing the honours: Groenewald

What has happened to Fiji’s police commissioner, Ben Groenewald?

The highly experienced former South African police commander hasn’t been seen in his official capacity for at least two months with assistant police chief, Isikeli Vuniwaqa carrying out key duties, including delivering the New Year Message to officers.

Groenewald was last heard from in November giving updates on two controversial cases involving police and army officers – the beating and torture of Iowane Benedito that was captured on video and posted to Youtube and the September beating of composer Josefa Bilitaki after an argument with Frank Bainimarama.

Local media also reported a reshuffle at the time (the one that put Vuniwaqa in the acting role) but nothing’s been heard of from Groenewald since then with insiders now saying the former personal bodyguard to South African, PW Botha, has fallen foul of elected thug Bainimarama over the Benedito and Bilitaki cases.

Groenewald had recommended that all those involved in the Bilitaki beating be interviewed and charged for unlawful arrest and assault. All, including police officers have since been interviewed and suspended except the chief of Bainimarama’s assault squad, Sailosi Rabuka, who was sent to Golan Heights immediately after the incident.

As a result of publicity, Groenewald also said at the time that he would present a report to the Minister of Defence, Timoci Navua, and comment on it but that comment has never come.

In November Groenewald also waded into the torture video

Torture: Groenewald pledged to investigate.

case revealing Benedito was now prepared to lay a complaint and had given a new statement about his attackers. Groenewald also pledged investigations would be carried out despite the fact the incident had not been reported directly to police but posted on Youtube.

Fiji police had earlier claimed the escaped prisoner, who was beaten and tortured on the back of a police vehicle, had not wanted to lay a complaint.

“Basic principle is no one is above the law and if a crime is committed the crime will be investigated,” Groenewald told Pacific Beat.

Groenewald was unsuccessful in stopping the Director of

Beating: Groenewald also investigating.

Public Prosecutions charging Bilitaki with ‘assault’ but insisted those who arrested the 60 year old composer, had not followed procedure and that an internal investigation was underway.

“There were interference by military police but he (Bilitaki) was arrested by police so police will take the full brunt of the consequences.”

Insiders say Bainimarama, who ordered his bodyguards to beat Bilitaki after he tackled him about the unauthorised use of his songs in Fiji First’s election campaign, wants Groenewald gone and has ordered Navua to send him on leave.

Email pacificinthemedia@gmail if you have information on this story.

Isikeli Vuniwaqa does the honours – where is Groenewald?

source – c4.5; posted by rusi Varani for swm
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