INDEPENDENT NEWS

Fijian LGBTQIA+ advocate found dead after alleged 'intense' social media bullying

Published: Thu 11 Jul 2024 03:08 PM
A popular Fijian LGBTQIA+ activist and social media influencer was reportedly found dead in their home in Suva on Monday.
Reports have emerged that Esala Lewamama, who goes by the name Ranadi Kei Viti (Queen of Fiji), died by suspected suicide after allegations of cyberbullying.
A Facebook video is being circulated online showing police carrying a body in a body bag and loading it onto a police vehicle.
"A 37-year-old man has been found dead in his home in Nabua Settlement this morning," fjivillage.com reported.
"Police confirm the incident occurred at around 7.30am. They allege it is a suicide case."
Assistant Commissioner of Police Mesake Waqa said they cannot speculate on the circumstances surrounding the victims death as that will be part of the investigation process, according to The Fiji Times report.
RNZ Pacific has contacted Fiji Police for comment.
Tributes are pouring in across social media following the report of the death.
Prominent Fijian lawyer and media personality, Jon Apted, wrote on his Facebook: "Fiji social media has been out of control for a while now with flagrant personal bullying and nasty exposés being the daily norm on many accounts and on the large Fiji group sites."
"Unfortunately the Online Safety Act has been forgotten and the Online Safety Commission has disappeared from the public stage.
"Now sadly a prominent social media personality, who was herself the subject of intense bullying over the last couple of days, has reportedly ended her own life."
Apted said people needed to be mindful of what they post and share about others online.
He is also calling for the Online Safety Commission to "stand up and do your work" and for the government to ensure the Commission has the resources to carry out its functions.
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