Tavua parents did not seek medical assistance due to their beliefs

January 23, 2024 12:37 pm

Ruci Kalokalo (left) and Laisiasa Rokobici in Lautoka court today

The parents of Alanieta Naituva, the 7-year-old who tragically passed away in Toko Tavua in 2021, stood their ground today, stating that they refrained from seeking medical treatment due to their religious beliefs.

Ruci Kalokalo and Laisiasa Rokobici, the parents, are currently facing charges of manslaughter and unlawfully burying their daughter.

As the trial entered its second day, Laisiasa Rokobici, the father of the victim, expressed the difficulty of their decision, emphasizing that while they didn’t wish for their child to die, they believed it was ultimately God’s decision.

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Rokobici said that certain illnesses could be cured through traditional treatments aligned with their faith, diverging from conventional medical approaches.

During cross-examination by prosecutor Saini Naibe, it was revealed that the couple had previously sought medical treatment for their children before 2017.

The couple would even seek medical care at the hospital when they were sick.

However, after joining the Yavu Vatu Ni Vanua, a religious group, their beliefs underwent a transformation, leading them to abandon conventional medical practices.

When questioned about why they didn’t seek medical help for their daughter, Rokobici maintained that their belief in the power of prayer was paramount.

He stated that, through their faith, they believed that praying for their child would lead to her recovery.

Naibe questioned the 52-year-old father on the decision, suggesting that seeking medical attention could have potentially saved their daughter’s life.

In response, Rokobici reiterated his commitment to his faith, stating that if it was God’s plan for his daughter to pass away, he accepted it as divine will.

The defense is set to call one witness, the leader of the Yavu Vatu Ni Vanua, before the prosecution has the opportunity to cross-examine.

It is alleged that between December and February 2021, the couple made an omission that amounted to a negligent breach of duty by not taking their 7-year-old child to the hospital for medical attention, which allegedly resulted in her death.

For the second count of Restriction of Burial of Dead Bodies, the two are alleged to have buried the body of their daughter without a certificate of death in the forms prescribed by the Registrar General by regulation under the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Act in the register of that body signed by a medical practitioner.

The trial continues.