The Muliaga family owed less than $200 on their power bill. They had made several attempts to pay some of it but not enough for Mercury Energy. The company switched off their power supply and three hours later Folole Muliaga, a woman who relied on an oxygen machine to help her breathe, was dead.
And Mercury Energy is being blamed for her death.
The closest Lopaavea Muliaga can get to holding his wife is shutting his eyes and imagining she is still in the room.
"I love my wife because she is a lovely wife, she love me and my kids and my family," says Lopaavea.
The family is grappling to understand why a big power company would switch off power to a woman needing oxygen.
The problem is that since Folole Muliaga got sick, the family has fallen behind on its bills.
"When she stopped working because she was sick, that's why my family struggle," says Lopaavea.
They had made two payments to Mercury Energy last month, but that wasn't enough.
On Tuesday, a Mercury Energy contractor switched the family's power off despite being begged not to by Folole Muliaga who was sitting next to her oxygen machine. It's alarm had been set off by the sudden loss of power.
"My mum told him to give us a chance," says Ietitaia Muliaga, Folole's son. "He said he is here doing his job and he's here to cut the power off."
Folole Muliaga started feeling unwell but told her son not to call for help. But three hours later when she collapsed, he called an ambulance. She died in front of her sons.
"They were trying the first aid thing but its too late," says Ietitaia.
The Muliagas are trying to cope with the sudden loss of their mother.
On Tuesday night they were forced to sit in the dark and on Wednesday morning a shocked extended family rallied around.
"We all came here today to pay the power because we love the husband and the kids staying in a dark place last night," says Sarai Tokuma, a relative.
However, following publicity about the case, Mercury Energy had already switched the family's power back on.
"I think their actions are reprehensible, it's absolutely disgusting what they've done," says Brendan Sheehan, a relative.
The family are calling for an independent inquiry into the actions of Mercury Energy. But they say they know it won't bring their mother back.
Source: One News
Interview with Lopaavea Muliaga