Finally, a car-jacking in Port Moresby

Blogging can be a bit of a blessing and a bit of a curse. The great thing, is that it is therapeutic to get something off your mind and down on paper. The other side – is that sometimes I just don’t want to write, no matter how many months go by – I start, I finish, I read what I wrote, I delete it – it’s not what I wanted to write.

On August 18th, I officially completed 5 years here in PNG. It seems a lifetime, and in fact for one of my kids – it basically is. She doesn’t remember our dog, our cat, our house, she remembers nothing of her previous life – but she was only 1 when we arrived. 
In 5 years, we have had our share of ups and downs. So many people have left – do they miss PNG? I’m sure they do.

Our downs have been bad, but we’ve come out of them with a big of anger, and sometimes just a laugh. Like the time Xavier and myself were driving down the road to do some fishing, and some idiot decided to throw a big rock at my ute. I swerved and almost collected him with the back side of the ute as the rock went sailing over us – still not sure who got the biggest fright, me (watching a rock get thrown at us), the idiot who threw the rock (as he was a second from being crushed by my ute), or Xavier (who thought we were doing wheelies). Or the time that my mate Troy and myself drove one of my company fleet cars down the road so he could see how they drove. A little Ford Fiesta, most likely the smallest car in PNG – and some idiot decides he wants to run out from the side of the road and swing a big massive pole at the car…. And it went straight over the top – missing us… The damage that could have happened if we were in the 4×4… I can only imagine! hahaha lucky!

And as I gradually creeped to the 5 year mark, I hadn’t given any thought to the fact that I had never been robbed nor carjacked, and then it happened – the Monday before my 5th anniversary and “wrong place, wrong time”.

I saw it coming, just after 8 at night, walking to my car – I just unlocked it as I approached, and they ran out of the road that leads to a local settlement. They were fast, and aggressive. I also tell everyone, just don’t worry – if you are in that situation, just hand everything over. But I didn’t. They looked very aggressive, and I quickly opened the door to my car and jumped in, one of them got the door handle and I wrestled it closed and hit the lock – really fast. I heard someone on the other side of the car – I had made it in time. Then I turned back to the guy on my side after hearing him yell at me and something banging against the window. He had a gun. He started banging it against the glass the barrel pointed at my head – trying to smash it. Breathe – calm – breathe – think – make noise – I yelled at him “FUCK YOU!” and pushed down on the horn. The gun was still there, he was pissed off. Breathe – keys – ignition – start – hold horn – no one helping – guards not coming – car started – in gear – accelerate – handbrake on – breathe – off handbrake – accelerate… they ran off behind me into the darkness. So fast…

I drive to where there are guards, they are hiding, I find more – yell at them. Breathe – adrenalin is cranking through my body. I try ringing my mate Simon who was just leaving too – no answer, I try again – still no answer. Somehow I have arrived at home – I don’t remember.

I walk into the house – Jacinta didn’t hear me. She finally spots me and asks if I have been drinking… no – I don’t tell her what happened for 2 days. I must have been wired. I get in touch with friends, they are rounding the rascals up – found out a lady got robbed. There were gunshots – I check my car – no holes. Breathe. I could have stopped that lady from being robbed – I can’t sleep – all I can see is the barrel of the gun pointing at my head – all I can think about is why I didn’t make sure no one else got robbed. Two days later – I’m pissed off and angry.

Colleagues asking if I pressed the duress button – breathe – another, are you alright? – breathe – I just need to internalise it and deal with it – breathe – normally, I would be the one helping them, so I just need to refocus and … breathe. It’s good medicine to breathe 🙂

I tell my son Xavier, I haven’t told my daughter who is in Boarding School in NZ – she will read all about it on here. (I am OK – really! 🙂 ) – Xavier basically shrugged his shoulders, he knew it may happen at some stage. What a trouper.

The next week – I am back there. There are only 2 choices for carparks, one is where I parked the week before. I park elsewhere. Not having a panic attack, but I am anxious. I am watching everyone.

I leave – and ask a guard to escort me to my car. A kid comes up and starts gobbing off at me – breathe. I feel wired again.

I drive around the corner, and here is a police checkpoint. I know that they are armed, and just doing their job – but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Breathe. I wind the window down and give the officer my drivers license, he checks it and says “thank you Mr Aaron, have a gud nite” – where was he last week!

I’m fine, but I’m not. So many people find themselves in these situations and don’t get away. I don’t know if it was dumb luck, my own stupidity, or they might have thought I was crazy… Either way, it was a wake-up call to remember – shit can happen anywhere and anytime. Here in PNG we are more exposed, poverty is so high, and it’s distressing thinking that these young men have to resort to violence to just get by. It makes me angry. I wish I could grab the little buggers and make them see that the life they are living will one day end – next time, they might rob someone who just shoots them.

I’ve always kept a balanced viewpoint of our life here in PNG. And always maintained that the majority of issues are “wrong place, wrong time” opportunistic.
And yes – it’s scary having a gun pointed at you, even worst when it is at your window pointing at your head less than 20cm away. But it also reminds me that so many people here live below the bread line – it’s sad. Such an unsustainable future.

How do we stop young Papua New Guineans from this way of life? I’d like to say I’m now sleeping well, but I’m not. I now worry that the young guy with the gun has been beaten by police/guards or worst. A week ago – I felt nothing for him, now I worry. Is it his fault that he may be uneducated, living under a tree, fearful of noises in the night, worried about how he was going to eat tomorrow? His options in life are slim, he may die of malaria, other gangs, or at the hands of people catching him, sickness, or starvation.

I feel sad.

8 thoughts on “Finally, a car-jacking in Port Moresby

  1. Don’t forget about the time our house in Port Moresby was broken into by one of our own security guards; or the time raskols broke the gate off and stormed our compound with machetes and guns, and attacked our neighbour and attempted to kidnap their teenage kids, while we locked our own kids behind the rape gates on the third floor of our townhouse; or the time we were on holiday at a resort in Rabaul and got caught up in the middle of a local payback attack when men surrounded your family while attempting to murder someone with bush knifes. The reality is we don’t belong here and never will.

  2. I guess Moresby hasnt changed much since we left in 1991 then. We had the armed hold up too and many scary stories. We lived there over seven years which I enjoyed and I miss the friendly people. I had a holiday in Fiji this year to recapture the island mood, thought I was less likely to get shot at. I think drugs are making the rascal problem worse. A lot of them are getting high on wacky baccy to give them courage.

  3. I have been reading your blog for many years but never made contact until now. You have impressed me with your positive attitude to the challenges that you have faced during your time in PNG. I had hoped your story would be one of the few that see your time in PNG being ‘attack’ free. I am sorry to read that you expereinced a car jacking. I truly hope you are doing better this week.
    I feel I need to contact you now because I believe your feelings, thoughts and behaviour are typical of Post Traumatic Stress disorder and victim empathy. You should consider speaking to someone who specialises in treating PSTD. It does help. I say this because I had PTSD following a violent robbery when I lived in PNG and I see you saying and doing the same things I did after my attack. I understand what it does to you when, in that instant, someone else has the power to decide if you live or die. The anger, guilt, fear, etc. Questioning yourself on how you could have managed it better. I think you managed it remarkably well.
    Yes, it is appalling that a country with such rich resources is so corrupt and its people are left to live with extreme violence, in severe poverty and with extremely poor standards of health and education, however they are not all raskols! Everyone makes choices as to how they will behave, even raskols. Yes, feel for the plight of the country and its people, but not the raskols. Their extreme behaviour is not about survival or opportunistic theft to make life easier. This is not a Robin Hood story. They do not rob to give back to their communities or to influence government health, education or welfare policy. This is about what it gives them. It is about power! Power through violence! Not only to expats but to their own people as well.
    Do feel sympathy for the millions of Nationals that live in such conditions and yet do not resort to violent criminal behaviour. Do NOT feel sorry for the raskols who attacked you! Had you been a hundredth of a second slower in getting that car door locked and the car moving, they may have killed you. You also cannot carry the burden of guilt for the robbery that occurred to others after your event. Everyone that goes anywhere in PNG (especially at night) is themselves responsible for the risk they take. No-one else can carry that responsibility for them. You cannot, and should not, carry it for them! I hate to be so blunt, but that is the reality. Look after yourself and please understand that your family will be traumatised by what happened to you as well. Best wishes.

  4. so sad when it happens ,it definitely has a lasting effect, I still have nightmares even though i’m living in Sydney, I still love vising joburg, first stop is my mate’ s place where I pick up my walther pk , little security protect the family ecksa.

  5. Very interesting reading this post just moments after accidentally finding your site – and arriving on your page and your earlier thoughts about how things are not as bad as everybody says. I’m pleased that you and your family are well after this incident. I’m a Kiwi that was in Moresby for 8 years during the 1980’s when things were bad, but nowhere as bad as they have become now. I was a single guy and started a construction business which I operated for six years and made good money, but looking back, there is not enough money in the world to attract me back. And I would certainly never ever be there with a family. Yes, I feel sorry for the locals because they have it extremely bad, but by the time I left I had had enough. During my time in PNG – and particularly Moresby, I had been attacked on a couple of occasions, had friends of mine have their wives raped – one of which was a particularly bad situation, and many other situations that I won’t bore you with. But the comment by Jacinta (your wife) sums it up completely – especially her last sentence. I just hope that if you are still there, that you make it out safely without any long term repercussions. for you or your family.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s