19 Sep 2017

Solomons police call for calm as they investigate cult shooting

11:00 am on 19 September 2017

Police in Solomon Islands are calling for calm as investigations into the shooting of a Melanesian Brother with an arrow allegedly by members of a local cult continue.

The brother, or tasiu, was shot in the ribs in the Rea Highlands in Central Makira last month, allegedly by members of the cult group Makira-Ulawa Cultural Platform.

The incident sparked a renewed public debate about the legitimacy of the Platform group which was formed in 2009, supposedly to revive traditional cultural practices in the province, but which has gained notoriety over the years because of reports its leaders reject Christianity and western knowledge and do not allow member's children to attend school or seek medical assistance.

Provincial police commander Peter Sitai said the cult's activities are a security concern, not only because of the recent attack on the Anglican brother, but because it is causing divisions within communities in the province.

Members of Melanesian Brothers

Members of Melanesian Brothers Photo: Anglican Church

Mr Sitai said a community policing team from the capital had been deployed to the area where the incident occurred and spoken to leaders of the cult who said they did not sanction the attack and believed it to be an isolated incident.

He said the Platform leaders also made some allegations against the Melanesian Brother regarding his behaviour in the lead up to the attack.

Mr Sitai called for calm as police tried to locate the suspected attacker and restore a sense of normalcy to the community.

"I am calling on the members of the Platform at Rea and non-members, the police is here to help everybody and call upon everybody to cooperate and work in partnership to enforce law and order in this province," he said.

The Melanesia Brothers are a religious order within the Anglican Church of Melanesia.