In the eyes of many people, it is set to become a metaphor for today’s Papua New Guinea.
Brutal, mindless, out of control.
After being accused of sorcery, Kepari Leniata, 20, was stripped, tortured, bound, doused in petrol and burned alive on a rubbish heap in Mount Hagen on Wednesday.
Police said Kepari was attacked by relatives of a boy aged 6, who had died in Mount Hagen hospital the day before.
Of course police say the people responsible for the horrendous killing will be caught and punished, one would expect no less.
But the real problem lies with the PNG government. Successive administrations have seen sorcery-related murders increase on their watch without taking any substantive action to eliminate the practice.
Such mindless brutality is a sign of significant social breakdown at the nation’s grassroots.
The neglect by central government of the areas where the bulk of its people live is well known.
It has been manifested by a degrading infrastructure, outbreaks of diseases previously been brought under control, an appalling track record in health and education, and by people taking the law into their own hands.
We await an immediate statement by Peter O’Neill on what his government, in conjunction with provincial governments, will be doing to stamp out such practices.
Papua New Guinea and its people should not have to tolerate this bloodthirsty behaviour for one moment longer.