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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 31) - A
high school student suspected of stealing wet cocoa beans was stripped naked and
paraded in two public places in Kokopo on Tuesday after five of his fingers were

It is the cocoa flush period and the theft of wet beans is on
the increase in cocoa-producing provinces — angering cocoa farmers who
highlighted it as a major problem in the industry during last fortnight’s
cocoa workshop in Kokopo.

Kokopo Police Chief Inspector Benjamin Mangkeju said yesterday
police attended to the incident on Tuesday but could not interview the student
as he was still in shock.

He said investigations into the incident have not started as the
student was yet to file a formal complaint about the attack.

The boy attends Kokopo Secondary School whose headmaster Patrick
Jerome yesterday condemned the attack on the Grade 10 student.

An eyewitness said between 11.30am and noon on Tuesday, a cocoa
grower from a village along the Kuradui road shouted out in Tok Pidgin for
everyone to come out of the shop at Talina — telling them to take a look at
"this boy who stole my cocoa’’.

The eyewitness said the young man was stripped naked, had five
fingers on his right hand slashed and was dripping blood.

He said the boy covered his private parts with his bloodied
hands while the man spoke to members of the public.

The eyewitness said he was later told that a sharp iron scissor,
used to prune cocoa branches, was used to cut the boy’s fingers.

Mr Jerome said the student was attending Physical Education
lessons on the Kokopo High School oval when he was picked up by the farmer.

He said witnesses claimed the boy was tied to the vehicle seat,
assaulted and later paraded at Talina and Butuwin, before being taken to

Mr Jerome said there was no proof the student had stolen wet
cocoa beans, adding the student was still in shock. He has had his hands
stitched and has not been to school yet. Mr Jerome said the act was inhuman,
adding problems with students should be reported to his deputy or himself to
deal with.

August 1, 2003

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