by Scott Waide – EM TV News, Lae
The father of the 19-year-old grade 12 student, shot by police in Lae last week, has spoken out for the first time since his death expressing how his son’s death has affected his whole family.
Rodney Yama travelled to Lae over the weekend to see where his son had been shot, as he and his family come to terms with the death a week ago.
“We come from a remote part of Kagua. I raised my sons with firm discipline,” he said referring to his biological son, Thomas, as well as four of his brothers’ sons who he has raised.
Speaking to EMTV News, he said Thomas had left for Lae days before his graduation. It was his first trip and he had gone to find out how much it would cost to enrol at Balob Teachers College.
“I guess he was afraid of what I would say if he didn’t get a place at the University of Goroka,” Mr. Yama said.
“Because of that he travelled to Lae to look for an alternative.”
Days after his son was killed, Rodney Yama attended Thomas’ graduation at the Kagua Secondary where his school mates and teachers came covered in mud as a sign of mourning.
Rodney Yama was raising his sons to be high achievers and hard workers. The most promising among his four sons in grade 12 was Thomas, who he hoped would eventually earn a doctorate degree paid for with his own money.
“The other boy would become a lawyer, the other an accountant.
“I collected his certificate and leadership award which he was supposed to receive.
“He didn’t want for anything. I promised each of my sons K3,000 when they graduated.
“I said: If you get accepted into the government’s Higher Education Contributions Assistance Scheme (HECAS), you can pay the balance with the K3,000 and keep the rest of the money.”
Thomas had begun working on one of his father’s PMV buses before graduation and had made a cash deposit of the takings into a bank, in Hagen, before heading to Lae.
“He also withdrew some money from his own account,” said Mr. Yama.
“If anyone says he was part of a gang…I don’t agree with it because he had his own money. He didn’t need to steal from anyone.”