BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
Prior to that, I had been a solo kiap at Olsobip patrolling the rugged Star Mountains followed by a long stint at Nomad River as part of a team trying to rein in the depredations of the irascible Biami cannibals.
Balimo was a long established sub-district headquarters with peaceful and tractable people so I felt a bit like a fish out of water.
When I got there I found an old friend, Corporal Kasari, who I’m sure a lot of kiaps will attest was one of the best bush policeman around. Kasari was feeling the same way and we commiserated.
At the time there was a fiery little Goilala nurse at the mission hospital. Her pride and joy was a bright red bicycle which she rode along the road to the government station everyday to collect the mail.
One day she woke up and discovered that her beloved wheely wheel had been stolen. She stomped up to the station to report the matter and to lay out the dire consequences for the offenders if they didn’t return said wheely wheel promptly.
I immediately put Corporal Kasari on the case.
Sure enough, that afternoon he marched two hangdog individuals into the office together with a wheely wheel with a distinctly buckled front wheel.
I congratulated the corporal and scheduled a session of the local court the next day.
With an appreciative audience, which included the nurse, I read the charges to the two nervous defendants; took their not guilty pleas and asked Corporal Kasari to present his case.
Kasari then proceeded to tell the court that his maternal grandmother had come to him in a dream and told him the names of the two culprits.
When I asked him whether it was possible to call his grandma he explained that this would be difficult because she had been dead for the last twenty years.
I quickly adjourned the court.
We then had a quiet individual word with the defendants. On the promise of lesser sentences they both turned state’s evidence and dobbed each other in.
Turns out they had imbibed a few too many SPs and had nicked the bike on a dare. Charging down the station road in the early hours of the morning, one pedalling and one sitting on the luggage rack, they had inexplicably crashed into the bank and buckled the front wheel of the bike.
I gave them a month each and then suspended the sentences on the understanding that they would buy the nurse a new front wheel and refit it to her satisfaction. I also suggested that some monetary compensation might also be in order.
Shortly afterwards I managed to engineer a transfer for Kasari back to the bush.
As for myself, I got a job in Port Moresby as publications officer with the Lands Department.
I figured by that stage the writing was on the wall.