PNG kidnapping case: Appeal for family to come forward after girl's rescue

2:58 pm on 10 January 2020

A social worker in Papua New Guinea is searching for the family of a 12-year-old girl, who was rescued from her alleged kidnappers just before Christmas.

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Photo: 123RF

Tania George claims to have been held captive for three years at a remote village in Chimbu province after being abducted from Madang's Ramu district.

The social worker, Jean Kupo, from Chimbu's Kundiawa Hospital alleged the girl was tortured and forced to work in the garden of her captors.

"They were giving her child labour. She was doing all the gardening for the family. They were releasing her in the early hours of the morning, like 6am and she goes to the garden and she comes back very late," she said.

"People don't see her, they make sure that no one sees her... When she comes back from the gardening she's locked in the house.

"When she doesn't work because she's tired they get mad and sometimes they don't give her food...They torture her...She's got scars from her head down to her feet."

"At one point, she couldn't bare the pain so she has to run away out of the house...In the morning the captor went and found her and tied her against a tree and after one day and a half he took her to the house and cut her finger off."

The police have arrested a brother and sister, John and Soti Nari, who Ms Kupo said were identified by Miss George at the hospital on Tuesday.

The Post Courier reported an angry crowd at the hospital assaulted the suspects before police were able to put them back in the van.

'She is traumatised'

The girl was rescued on 23 December by children who discovered her plight, Ms Kupo said.

"On the 21st of December a young guy passed by the house and he heard some moaning and some crying...Then he looked inside. He saw this girl but he couldn't do anything so he had to go and find his bigger brother who is much stronger than him to come and rescue the little girl.

"They had to plan on the Sunday and then on the Monday they watched this guy...When they saw him hopping into his car, taking his car to town, they went and break his house down and they found this little girl."

"So they undo her chains and they brought her to the hospital and then they contacted the police."

The social worker said the girl was suffering from psychological trauma and was slowly releasing information about her past.

Her mother had died when she was young and her father had gone to Lae. She has six siblings and had gone to live with a maternal uncle in Ramu, Ms Kupo said.

"To get to the relatives we are finding it a bit hard... None of the relatives are calling me or checking on her. She hasn't given me any names yet.

"I know she remembers but she is traumatised. The way she was telling me her stories - she was misplaced along the way. Too many parents and too many places.

"She wants me to take her to her father who was working in Lae, one of the Lae districts but she doesn't know where he is located. I promised her that I'd take her for one week and we'll be touring the whole Lae city and we'll find her father.

"She was happy this morning and smiling and thinking that I will take her back to her father."