Angry mob next 10 miles

Road hazards come in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes they take the form of an angry mob.

On 24 December 1972 Peter Moini was a passenger in a motor vehicle owned by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG).  The vehicle was driven by a government employee, Luke Rovin.  On the Highlands Highway near the town of Goroka, Rovin’s driving caused the vehicle to hit and kill a child nameds Linda Sapulo.  The vehicle ran off the road and turned over.  In the ensuing riot the people of the area murdered Rovin and Moini in a “payback kiling”.  Moini’s widow successfully sought damages from the government in the PNG National Court on the grounds that Rovin’s negligence had caused her husband’s death: Moini v The State [1977] PNGLR 39.  The government appealed.

Goroka (1973)
Countryside near Goroka, Papua New Guinea, in 1973 [NAA: B6295, 3511Q]
Among the grounds of appeal presented to the Supreme Court of PNG was that there was no evidence that Moini’s death was foreseeable.  The Court rejected this argument.  Prentice CJ strikingly observed that –

In many parts of Papua New Guinea the payback is becoming a thing of the past. But it is indeed a matter of notoriety that inspires dismay, that some 40 years of government administration in the Highlands, including criminal sanctions, insurance, and special provisions for automatic compensation to tribal non-dependent relatives, have not yet removed among Highlanders the instant reaction towards payback for tribal loss of blood or death. … It must be known to all driving members of the community that even in Port Moresby, as a matter of prudence, one does not stop after a motor vehicle accident … but proceeds straight to the nearest police station — in some districts even to seek sanctuary for oneself against payback, despite completely blameless behaviour.

As a result, “a reasonable man in Rovin’s position would reasonably have foreseen the killing of Moini and/or himself as the likely consequence of his killing of the child and overturning of his vehicle”.

The State v Moini [1978] PNGLR 184