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Poor law enforcement, mob mentality blamed for weekend rash of violence

Jakarta Globe - November 8, 2011

Camelia Pasandaran, Ronna Nirmala & Ulma Haryanto – A spate of violent incidents that led to two deaths during the weekend was partly caused by weak law enforcement, a sociologist said on Monday.

"People are easily provoked. They become frustrated, and this is made worse by the reality that the law is not being properly enforced in this country," sociologist Ricardi Adnan said.

In Donggala district, Central Sulawesi, a massive brawl between two villages was triggered by a traffic accident on Sunday afternoon and went on until Monday morning. The incident began when two youths from Labuan Induk and Dalaka villages collided on their motorcycles, injuring both.

"When one of the injured boys and his friends approached the other one to demand compensation for his medical costs, he was attacked," Donggala Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. I Nengah Subagia told state news agency Antara on Monday.

A fight then escalated between the rival villagers, disrupting traffic between Palu, the provincial capital, and Tolitoli. Three houses in Dalaka were burned in the melee. The mobs only withdrew after hundreds of police officers arrived at the scene on Monday.

In Central Jakarta, meanwhile, a teenager was killed by a mob on Sunday after being accused of stealing a motorcycle in Gambir.

Police said Jendri Simanjorang, 19, had been pushing a motorcycle after Idul Adha prayers when he was caught by a group of men. He told them the vehicle was his friend's, but they ignored his protestations and attacked.

"Officers tried to settle the mob down but failed because they were outnumbered," Central Jakarta Police Chief Sr. Comr. Angesta Romano Yoyol said on Monday.

Ricardi said that in these cases, a mob mentality took over as people assumed the worst. "The feeling that law enforcement is absent also prompts them to believe that in order to get justice, they have to take it on their own," he said.

In a third case of weekend violence, 17-year-old Raafi Aga Winasya Benjamin was stabbed to death during a confrontation at a popular bar in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Friday. No suspects have been named and police say they have no leads, in spite of the fact that dozens of people were present at the time.

Criminologist Mohammad Irvan Olii blamed the police's slow response for the lack of development in the case. "It is no secret the police are slow. The bar probably took this as a chance to clean up the mess before the news broke," he said.

The management of SHY Rooftop, where the incident occurred, has been criticized for mopping the blood from the floor and rolling up the carpets.

"No, we haven't found anything yet," South Jakarta Police Chief Sr. Comr. Imam Sugianto said on Monday. "We have questioned 16 people so far, but there are no developments yet." He added that police were still searching for the murder weapon and a motive. The bar's management has declined to comment.

Arist Merdeka Sirait, the chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), said on Sunday that the victim's school, Pangudi Luhur Catholic boys' school, was notorious for its brawls. "The school has to focus not only on its students' academic achievements but on molding their behavior," he said.

Vice principal Heri Prasetya denied the allegation. "Our school has never been involved in a single brawl, never," he said. "We have strict regulations and we always warn the students that if they are involved in any kind of violence, they will be expelled immediately."