Church reconciles with family over Vatuvonu 1969 murder case

April 19, 2024 6:03 am

The Fiji Seventh Day Adventist Church took a bold step by seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with the family of a schoolgirl who was allegedly murdered at Vatuvonu High School in Buca Bay, Cakaudrove, in 1969.

The incident, known as the ‘phantom killer,’ occurred at the school premises but remains unsolved due to a lack of evidence.

However, its impact still resonates at the school, which belongs to the Church.

Article continues after advertisement

Fiji Seventh Day Adventist church president Pastor Nasoni Lutunaliwa says that seeking forgiveness from the families and surviving siblings of the late victim is something the church feels should be done.

“We are so thankful for what has happened today because this is something that has hovered over us for the past 55 years.

“We came to do reconciliation for a crime that happened some 55 years ago. We feel that there was some kind of stoppage or blockage to the blessings for the school because of that, and coming from the church position, we want to reconcile and get things settled, and we are able to do that.”

A family member, Isikeli Tubuilagi, while accepting the “tabua,” acknowledges the church for the initiative, concerns, boldness, and care in merging and fixing important ties for the betterment of Vatuvonu in helping the school continue serving the children of Buca Bay.

“We are from the second generation; gone are the very people who should be here to accept today’s significance. But we, the family, are blessed to be here and to have been chosen to be part of this occasion, and we feel and see the love of God for the family, the church, and especially here at the Vatuvonu High School.”

Pastor Lutunaliwa adds that the traditional “matanigasau” or “veisorosorovi” for the family is a way forward for the school, since Vatuvonu was a blooming high school back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the church wants to raise the standards and level of education in Vatuvonu since they have been facing a lot of challenges, and doing the traditional “matanigasau” or “veisorosorovi” will be able to clear things out for the future of the children Vanua and the church as well.

Hundreds of church members, students’ teachers, and villagers gathered at the Vatuvonu High School in Buca Bay to be part of the historical event that should have happened a long time ago, but according to many present at the event, God’s timing is always the best time.