EDITORIAL: By The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley
What is happening to us in Fiji?
How did we get to this stage?
The brutal attack and senseless death of [35-year-old carpenter] Apakuki Tavodi in [a roadside stabbing] in Saweni, Lautoka, is a shocking reminder about how fragile life can be.
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It is a reminder as well about the importance of life, and questions how much value we place on that.
Let’s face it.
There is grief, and there is bound to be fear in the community.
We must stand united in shock and sorrow as we mourn the loss of a young life.
As we grapple with the nature of this act, and the death of someone in this fashion, we must all demand for justice and action.
The brutality displayed cannot be ignored. Is this what is lurking beneath the face that we have of society?
We must not allow ourselves to become numb to such acts.
This young man’s life mattered to those who knew him, and those who loved him, and there has to be a thorough and swift investigation that brings those responsible to justice.
In saying that, we must also ask ourselves the difficult questions: how did we get here?
What factors have contributed to the erosion of safety and respect for human life in our community?
The answers may be complex, but they cannot be avoided.
Should we see this tragedy as an isolated incident?
Or do we consider it a symptom of a deeper malaise that needs to be addressed.
Let’s not wait for the police to act and try to solve this case. Let’s not sit back and hope that nothing like it happens again.
Let’s unite and talk about this.
Let’s talk about peace and reconciliation and work together for a society where violence is unacceptable.
It may not be easy, but it must be done, for everyone’s sake.
It must be done for the peace and security, and for our country.
That will need us to stand up for what is right.
There must be trust and confidence in the law, and those tasked to uphold them.
There must be hope in our systems, and processes, and we need confidence in the long arm of the law being there for everyone irrespective of who they are in society.
Let’s see this death as a wake-up call.
Let’s see it as a reminder for us that we cannot take our safety or our sense of community for granted.
We must work together to build a future that places peace and security on a very high plane.
As a community, we can choose to heal, to unite, and to build a society where violence is not an option.
This editorial was published in The Sunday Times under the title “Call for action” today, 21 January 2024.