Notorious Tongatapu machete attacker jailed after man loses hand

    A man who hacked his victim’s arm with a machete has been jailed for seven years.

    Kaumavae Fakaanga, 35, pleaded not guilty to one count of causing grievous bodily harm but later changed his plea to guilty.

    His charge stemmed from an incident at Tokomololo in which Fakaanga attacked the victim Sosefo Tu’akoi, 44,  with a machete. Tu’akoi’s  left hand was injured during the attack and was later amputated.

    The court was told that on  May 7, 2021 Tu’akoi attacked the victim in a hall at the  Church of Tonga after a drinking confrontation with other people. The victim attempted to clam down the prisoner. However, at one stage, the prisoner ran outside and returned with a knife. When he saw the victim was holding a baseball bat, he moved back and started swearing.

    The victim threw the bat at the prisoner from a distance of about six metres to try to scare him away, the court was told.

    The prisoner then disappeared and the victim then turned back to go into the hall. As he passed a chair near the door on the veranda, he heard someone screaming: ‘Don’t Mavae’. The victim looked back and saw the prisoner swinging the machete down onto his head. The victim raised his left hand to shield himself. The machete struck his elbow. He moved back. The prisoner also moved back and screamed: ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of you’.

    A minute or so later, the prisoner attacked again. The victim tried to hold the prisoner to prevent further injury, but the prisoner struck towards the victim’s head again. Again, the victim raised his left hand to shield himself. The second blow with the machete severed three of Sosefo’s fingers on his left hand. A third struck his head.

    The victim was taken to hospital with lacerations to his left arm and scalp, broken bones and nerve damage. The palm of his hand later became infected. As a result of his injuries, the victim required surgery during which his left hand had to be amputated. He was hospitalised for about two months and had to attend clinic appointments during a third.

    Previous convictions

    The court was also told the prisoner had previous convictions including one in 2013 in which he was sentenced by the Magistrates Court to a total of nine months’ imprisonment for housebreaking and theft.

    Later that year, he was sentenced by the Supreme Court  to three years imprisonment for causing bodily harm with the last year suspended on conditions. That offending also involved alcohol and the premeditated and retributive use of a machete.

    Between 2003 and 2007, he was convicted of alcohol and drug related offences.

    Probation recommendation

    In his case with Tu’akoi, a probation officer told the court the prisoner was not  a ‘high risk to his family or the community’ and that rehabilitation may help ‘pave the right path for him.’ For those reasons, the probation officer recommended a fully suspended sentence on conditions.

    In relation to the offending, the prisoner, who represented himself in court, said that he initially pleaded not guilty because he believed that he was innocent. However, he later pleaded guilty because he was ‘confused’. He said he was not being able to recall what happened due to being ‘really intoxicated’ and having ‘blacked out a few times’. He also told the probation officer that he asked the victim for forgiveness and that his family visited the Tu’akoi while he was in the hospital.


    Sentencing the prisoner, Lord Chief Justice Whitten said:  “The Defendant is convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and is sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

    “The final year of the sentence is to be suspended for a period of two years on the following conditions, namely that during the said period of suspension, the Defendant is to:

    (a) not commit any offence punishable by imprisonment;

    (b) be placed on probation;

    (c) report to the probation office within 48 hours of his release from prison;

    (d) abstain from consuming alcohol or illicit drugs; and (e) undertake such rehabilitative courses on life skills and alcohol and drugs awareness as may be directed by his probation officer.

    “Any breach of those conditions is likely to result in the Defendant being required to serve the balance of his term of imprisonment.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here