On Monday 26 November in central Nuku'alofa, I was returning after a dinner meeting with a business associate to Noa Apartments where I was staying. At about 11.30pm I walked past the service station and HABS on the left hand side [of Wellington Rd] and towards the Chinese shop where I noticed three youths standing nearby. I walked past the shop and was suddenly struck with something on the back of the head. I fell to the ground and was then beaten by the three youths. Whilst being beaten, I was able to get a good look at one of the youths. Unable to get to my feet and defend myself I started yelling and, fortunately, attracted the attention of some Tongan ladies that were nearby.
The women started yelling at the youths and the youths ran away. Their reward was my mobile phone, reading glasses, $2.50 and three pieces of takeaway chicken. I cannot thank the ladies enough for coming quickly. If they had not come the beating would most likely have continued and perhaps caused serious injury.
They phoned the police who were there within a minute. I was lucky my injuries were a small cut to the face, a bruise on the back of me head and some other minor bruising. It could have been much worse as an unlucky fall or well-directed punch could have caused serious injury.
For the next two hours I traveled with the police around the area looking for the youths and eventually I identified one of them. The three youths were taken to the Police Station and questioned. It was not long before one of them confessed. The police then returned to their house and located my mobile phone thus confirming their involvement.
While at the police station their mothers arrived and asked the youths to apologise. One said "Sorry Mister", the next said nothing, and the last displayed his middle finger to me as a sign of insult.
The police then took me to the hospital for an examination and medical report.
On reflection I feel no anger towards the youths. In Vava'u I employ a number of youths in our virgin coconut oil export business, Taste of Tonga.
I understand that there is a lot of pressure on unemployed youth in Tonga and through our business we are trying to help in some small way. The three youths that attacked me are most likely disillusioned with their current station in life but this will never condone their actions. In addition to this I am the president of the Vava'u Business Chamber and we are endeavoring to take action in Vava'u to increase tourism and business opportunities, which will then lead to employment opportunities.
It is my opinion, that increasing the viability of small business in Tonga is one way to positively impact on youth unemployment. More opportunity for business creates more opportunity for youth. With employment, people improve their confidence, self-esteem and sense of worth. I feel sorry for the boys that attacked me and hope that with time they will see the folly of their actions. The consequence of actions that they have now endured will be a stain on their report card forever.
I hope that they have considered their actions and will now try to find ways to add value to the community rather than take from it.
I feel that it is important that I praise the Nuku'alofa police. Their professional police work delivered a result. They could have easily stopped looking after a couple of hours but didn't. Their determination to apprehend the three youths was commendable. While I don't know their individual names of the police officers that assisted me I would like to thank them publicly for their efforts.
Ian C. Jones