Sergeant Kapinias Laman (MS13): “Credit must go to my wife for being there”

Two decades on, Laman, says he owes a lot to the brave, strong woman who just wouldn’t back off when things got difficult.


Today, Sergent Kapinas Laman, is a section commander within the Lae City’s Mobile Squad 13 (MS13). The sergeant, a man of few words has served in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) for more than 25 years.

Laman is a third generation cop. His years of service were all spent in mobile squads in Papua New Guinea’s trouble spots.
“I followed the family tradition. My father was also a mobile squad member. He held the same rank as me when he left the force. My grandfather was also a policeman.
“Much of my life in the police force was spent in the highlands and in mobile squads… the Special Services Division…”
While this story is about the cop dedicated to the service of the state, it cannot be told on its own. Interwoven, is the life of a brave woman who stood my her man in some of the

most difficult periods of their life together.

Grace Dewari, met the young Kapinas Laman more than 25 years ago.
The daughter of a riot squad member based in East New Britain, her early childhood revolved around the order of barracks life in post colonial Papua New Guinea. Then as the wife of a mobile squad member, married life meant that her husband was never at home for months at a time.
For Grace, the transition from the home of her parents to her own with a member of the RPNGC was relatively smooth. However, she now had added responsibilities of managing a home and finances.
“When we began living together, his pay was K67. It was hard.”
Just as their lives together began, Laman was sent to Tari which was then part of the Southern Highlands Province. They were expecting their first child when Laman was deployed.
For the young couple, this was going to be one of the most difficult periods in their journey.
Grace gave birth in Lae but they lost their baby.
“He was a young policeman and when he wanted to come and see me, his commanders couldn’t allow him to use the police vehicle to travel to Lae. So he got on a PMV from Tari.”
In Kundiawa, Simbu province, the PMV bus broke down.
“I was still at the hospital. I was watching the time. I thought he would arrive at 3’o’clock in the afternoon. But he didn’t. I had to put our baby’s body in the morgue.”
While Grace waited in Lae, the PMV broke down again in Goroka leaving Laman stranded for a second time on the trip.
“So he arrived at 12 o’clock, midnight. By then, I couldn’t take it. I felt it was unacceptable. I was going to say, ‘its over.’ You can stay in the police force and find another…
Just when the marriage had begun, it looked as if the death of their first born and the stress of managing a household would trigger an end to their relationship. But Grace’s resilience and strength shone through.
“I took some time to think. I said, that’s not the way to go about things. I have to take the challenge and move on with my husband.”
More than two decades later, Sergent Laman, who is known to be one of the toughest cops in Lae City, says he owes a lot to the brave, strong woman who just wouldn’t back off when things got difficult.
“A lot of credit must go to her. She maintains the family. She doesn’t give me a hard time when things get difficult and when I am at work.
“She knows when to tell me news that she has. Sometimes she doesn’t tell me everything. She will wait and tell me when I come back.”
Soon after joining the RPNGC the young Kapinias Laman was sent to Bougainville at the height of the Bougainville Crisis. Like many others, it was a difficult time for those who served and their families.
“All my children were born when I was in Bougainville,” Laman recalls.
He was attached to a PNG Defence Force Infantry Unit guarding care centers. Those were

the days before mobile phones and the internet. Communication was difficult.

The infantry unit lived in the distant care centers for months at a time. The only time, Grace would come to know if her husband was alive was when his commander made contact with the families of his troops.
“It was very hard. I never told anyone,” Grace says. “I kept it all inside. I never got to talk to him. Only once in a while he would send a message with his commander when he came out to an area with communication access.”
“He would send a message… ‘I need a K100 or a K50…”
When the couple finally settled in Lae with their children, their challenges continued. With no institutional housing available, they lived with family for a few years. Laman become one of many police commanders, serving the state but having no home of their own.

The family eventually moved into Lae’s Bumbu Barracks where they have been given accommodation.


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