Family considers suing government over fake driving license issued to ‘handicapped’ driver who killed mother

The family of Sitela Fungavaka is considering a civil suit against the Ministry of Transport and the Government of Tonga after a fake driving licence was given to a handicapped driver allowing him to drive a vehicle and killed the 76-year-old mother last year.

(L-R) Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa and Tourism Minister Akosita Lavulavu

A family spokesperson in New Zealand has confirmed this to Kaniva News.

It is understood the family were only became aware of the driver’s fake driving licence after it was reported on Kaniva last week.

We were told the deceased’s husband has forgiven the driver and his family while they were attending her funeral last year.

“But issuing a fake driving licence to the driver is a different issue and I will talk to dad about it,” she said.

As we reported last week, the 21-year-old handicapped driver, Siolosi Hu’akau, said he did not know about the traffic rules because he did not sit any driving tests before his license was given to him.

“He admitted to Police that he was not aware of the speed limits because he did not obtain his driver’s licence validly – it was given to him over the counter through his mother”, the judgement document read.

It said the prisoner “was speeding and driving in a manner dangerous to the public”.

In sentencing Hu’akau, the Lord Chief Justice Michael Whitten said: “In relation to the Hu’akau’s driver’s licence, having regard to his physical and mental handicaps (particularly that he has the ‘mind of a child’), it is extremely regrettable that he was ever allowed to drive a motor vehicle in the first place”.

Mr Whitten said Hu’akau should not be permitted to drive a motor vehicle on a public road again.

“I therefore order that the Defendant be permanently disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence”.

Hu’akau was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment with the last 12 months suspended with conditions.

MV Ashika tragedy

In 2009, the government’s MV Princess Ashika sank and 74 people were killed as a result after passengers, mostly women and children, were tapped below deck in the country’s worst maritime disaster.

The Government-owned Shipping Corporation of Polynesia was ordered to pay $1.4 million in fines. The government also paid TOP$80,000 each as compensation for some families.

Some of the Shipping Corporation’s top officials including the captain and the former head of the Shipping Corporation of Polynesia were sent to jail because of their part in the doomed ferry disaster.

The Prime Minister Pohiva Tu’i’onetoa and his Transport Minister Akosita Lavulavu were contacted for comment.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news