In 2011 after completing Grade 9 at Kwikila Secondary School in Central Province, I left school the following year (2012) to stay at home. My folks thought it would be better for me have a year off, I too agreed.
While at home, I got into so much trouble, hanging around on the street, doing street sales and once in a while brought Marijuana back to the village to sell there, like my elder brother did. We lived at six mile storeline on former Anglimp South Waghi MP Papa William Ekip Wii’s property. I grew up with his children so basically they were my brothers. I think they influenced me when I was growing up, most of my friends were from the settlement, Bodiem and Saraga, so I spent more time there, getting in trouble with those petty thieves who were skilled pickpockets and mine kutis, who can open a locked car with a piece of wire in the blink of an eye.
One day, after successful sales of stolen properties, my friends came looking for me at home. They bought a few drinks so we sat down drinking in front of the shop near the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, it was around 12 noon. After two cartons of SP and two 20oz warrior bottles, we were dead. When it was going towards the afternoon, cops pulled up on us, this was after someone reported to the police that we were causing nuisance on the street and attacking innocent people, and that was true, the strong drink ‘Warrior’ was newly introduced then had a high alcohol percentage that could reduce a man to an animal leaving him with no senses whatsoever, no ability make rational decisions, the alcohol percentage was high enough to numb a man and kill him.
When the cops pulled up, I was shirtless walking around screaming non-sense, though I was skinny as a twig, I always acted like an iron man. These cops were no ordinary cops, they were the famous and notorious six tiger, they were known for leaving small time thugs and drunkards half dead drinking their own piss. We personally knew the policemen, they jumped out the landcruiser and beat us senseless with big raintree branches, I don’t know where they got the branch from. I was dead drunk that I felt nothing, like I said, warrior numbed all my senses. The branch of my skin tore my flesh but I didn’t feel a thing.
They threw us into the landcruiser and drove down to the six mile police station, they threw us all into a cell that was overflowing with water and left, it was around five in the afternoon. Being drunk, I made myself comfortable on the pool of water and slept like a baby. I woke up around 2 am in the morning from cold, when I came to my senses, I was sleeping in a pool or dirty water in a cell. I turned to see my three other friends hugging themselves tightly at the corner of the cell that the water had not reached and was dry.
I started shivering because I had no shirt on, then I started feeling sharp pains on my body when I moved my muscles. I went and stood near the cell iron where little light was visible and there, I inspected the bruises on my body. Damn! I thought after seeing on the swelling on my body, these people did a good job giving us the finisher. I was still under the intoxication of alcohol so the pain was bearable. I called on the cop morning night shift at the reception to bring me a shirt but he told me to shut the hell up.
When morning came, my folks came and paid me and my friends a visit bring us food and me some clothing. The cops told them they would release by lunch hour so they left. The station commander at six mile police station then was Brian Kombe, a very hard man. They told us we would be released if we cleaned up all the cells in the police station so for the next 2 hours, we brushed and scrubbed until inside of the cells were spotless. Since we knew the police men, we thought they would let us go but no.
We were called into a small office one by one and formal arrests were made. They loaded us into a police cruiser and drove towards seven-mile way, to Gordons, all the way to four mile and stopped in front of Boroko Police Station. We were brought in, papers signed by officers and the next thing we know, we were thrown into the cell with the other law breakers.
After about four days and three nights at Boroka cell while awaiting court, we were told they were bringing PNG’s notorious criminal down from Bomana maximum prison to Boroko police station for his hearing at the Boroko courthouse. All the kutis in there worshipped Kapris and called him ‘Bikpla Pukpuk’ or ‘Pukpuk mahn’. He was the king of crime, everybody in the cell, especially some big criminals who have been frequenting Boroko cell and Bomana prison for armed robberies respected him like a leader.
All of us were sent into the dark room cell seven to make way for Kapris. I swear I nearly died in there, there were no windows, just a small opening at the thick metal door which we took turns sticking our nose out to breath 3 minutes of fresh air, not that fresh. Everybody in there was fighting for a space to sleep, there was about 30 of us in that small cell and for the next two nights and one day, we were locked in there.
The atmosphere was tense, anybody complaining of sleeping space was beaten up by the other big thugs who have been in the cell for quite a long time and made it their home.
They would kick someone and say ‘ino haus blo yu, foldim leg han na sleep or bami brukim leg han blo u’. So when sleeping, you had to keep your legs folded, knees touching your chest while your sleep and it wasn’t advisable to stretch your legs or arms. One night a man accidentally kicked another man’s head when he stretched his legs in the middle of the night, the other got up and punched him and soon everyone was kicking and punching each other, it was pitch black dark in there, nobody saw anybody. Just legs and fist flying in all directions, a lucky punch landed on my face, I in anger flung a kick and heard someone scream in pain, I couldn’t tell who it was or which part of his body I kicked but from the way he screamed in pain, it must have been his nuts.
Taking a shit wasn’t allowed, when someone took a shit, he polluted the whole cell, being without windows, the cell had no proper circulation of fresh air and the smell of shit, would stay around for almost an hour before disappearing. When someone was taking a shit, everyone was fighting for fresh air at the small opening in the metal door. Those who farted were kicked in the head, I saw someone’s eyes turned white when he was kicked on the back and on the head, of course it wasn’t him who farted, but the poor guy was blamed and got a free beating.
The food was bad, eating rice was like eating ‘parao baki baki’, the people in there called it PK rice. The food was served in small ice cream containers, rusty tin plates and tray or storage container for food lids. The soup was over cooked, you could tell, the noodles tuned white from over boiling, it’s called 2 minutes’ noodles for a reason, however these cooks in the cell kitchen cooked the noodle for an hour from the looks of it, and we couldn’t even identify the tin fish. You had to eat quickly and retun the plate so food could be served for other thugs in the cell. This was a bad time to be locked up in a cell, I don’t know why everyone was angry, I could hear two men arguing over the toilet pot on who would take a shit first, the toilet was those old types of toilets that had no seats.
When weekend finally came, we were let out of the cell seven to come live in the outside open cell. The men on the other side and the women on the other side. In the cell had a small office which an old man occupied. I had befriended the old guy when we first came into the cell so I would go sit and tell stories with him when he wasn’t busy.
On Friday afternoon, some students from a secondary school in Pom were brought in, about four boys and three girls. They were heavily intoxicated, the police told us that they were involved in some cult activities and in group sex orgy. When the police left them, we jumped onto them and took off whatever we could get from their body. I removed a Puma shoe from one of the students, just one side of the shoe, the ther side of the shoe was taken by another kuti so we both had to fight over the shoe until one of the big kutis came and took the shoe away from us and gave a PE shirt from one of the students.
The next morning, I saw one of the students looking at me so I knew he was looking at the shirt I was wearing which was his, I wanted to give it back but this was Boroko cell, you take it, you keep it. Period!
The day before that, an Engan taxi driver dropped some cigarette ash on a Goilala’s sleeping spot, the Goipex nearly stabbed the guy with a toothbrush for that.
The Boroko cell was home to the Goilala tekeras, lucky for me, we shared the same highway and border so I became friends with them and they supplied me buai and smoke. They would call me ‘Deboh Folomah’ which is the name they call my people from Kuni who border Goilala and Mekeo.
While in there, I would spend time with the old man in his little cubic office which was transparent glass and point to each person in the cell and ask him what crimes they had committed to be here. I saw a young mother with her child no less than a year old in the cell, she had just returned from court where she was sentenced to 7 years to maximum prison with hard labor for smuggling 10kg worth of marijuana. She was taken to Bomana the next day and her baby given to her relatives, we could hear her crying outside the cell as she was taken into the prison transport. It was just sad, my heart ached for the poor child and I cursed the mother.
I saw many faces, small thugs to white collar criminals in suit, murderers, rapists, drug smugglers, etc. while in Boroko cell. Some in there for crimes they committed and others, just suspects in crime. I also saw two young boys from Kairuku in Central Province, when I wanted to go talk to them, the Goilala’s warned me not to, they were awaiting court and had been in cell for almost four months for the muder of their uncle. They kept to themselves, made no interaction with other people in the cell, their spot was right below the window in the outer open cell.
After nearly two weeks of hell and bad food, our names we called and we were escorted out to the prison transport and transported to the Boroko District court for our hearing. Me and my three friends and other law breakers. Though we didn’t commit a serious crime, being in the prison transport made us feel like we were on the most wanted list. Our friends selling CD’s, flash drives and other items in front of Ori Lavi building went cray when they saw us in the transport.
We were locked in a small brick house outside the courthouse, the first person on trial was a drug dealer from Tari who was caught with 5 kilograms of marijuana at Gordons market. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail. Another was sentenced to two years in jail. When our time came, I felt a lump on my throat when we were escorted into the courtroom. This was my first time before a magistrate, I felt like throwing up. The magistrate was a woman, she had a hard face and a stone cold glare which would make even an innocent standing before her feel guilty of a crime he had not even committed.
Our charges were read out aloud and then our sentences laid out. My other three friends were above 18. I was only 15 about to turn 16 in 3 months’ time, I was a juvenile. Our sentence was 1 year 6 months in prison. I cried but hid my tears, my eyes were red.
After court, we were transported back, while in the transport, the Tari and others were planning to make a run when they brought us back to the cell. We drove into the Boroko police station carpark area through the back gate which is opposite the four mile drain and the Boroko market, two police men escorted us back, the other was my old friend whose office was in the cell.
When we came out the transport, the Tari made a dash for the gate which was about to be closed by a female police officer, I looked at my other friend from Simbu and told him to run too, the police men couldn’t run after them. I wanted to make a run but I held back, maybe because I would still get caught, my knees were disabled when the cops beat us up. The two guys ran for freedom and were gone. They were the first to get off the transport. The transport iron gate was quickly locked and bolted, shutting us inside while other cops came running out of the station to the transport with weapons.
They were beaten up outside in the carpark for our friends escaping and then let inside, my body was sore so I went to my regular sleeping spot and slept. They told us we were going to be transported to Bomana the next day, I slept face up looking at the ceiling and thinking why I didn’t make a run for freedom with the other two guys.
I didn’t go to sleep that night, I couldn’t even though I tried to shut my eyes. I was restless so I turned and faced the stained covered wall and cried, and prayed earnestly to God to set me free, I promised God if I was set free, I would not see the inside of a cell again.
Early next morning, I woke up and took a cold shower. We would we leaving at 9 am. I came back to my spot, sat down and waited for them to call my name so I would go to prison. Then after a while, I heard my name called out. I walked towards the iron bar and guess who I saw, my mother. I had never been so excited in my life, my mother went and paid for my bail and brought the receipt to Boroko cell. They bailed me and my other buddy but the other one was left inside, we were late when we came back to the police station to bail him out, he was already on a transport on his way to Bomana to serve his sentence.