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Police look for murderer of Sandringham dairy worker

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, 24 November 2022

Community comes together to pay respects and seek answers (photo supplied)

The Police have launched a homicide inquiry after a worker at the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham, known as ‘Little India.’ was fatally stabbed in a robbery last night.

The worker, who was reportedly helping the family of the owners, died in the hospital, leading to public outrage and sadness.

More than 200 people have paid their respects to the deceased man who was stabbed during an aggravated robbery last night (November 23, 2022).

Many in the community are still reeling from the shock of this murder but they say that they are not surprised as it was only a matter of time before an innocent life was lost in wake of increased robberies across the country.

The victim is reported to be q young man, and recently married and that he was helping extended an  family while they were away travelling at the time of the murder.

Unsafe environment for owners

Dairy and Business Owners Group Chairman Sunny Kaushal said that business owners were feeling increasingly unsafe at their workplaces.

“This incident has left us numbed with shock,” he said.

He said that crime against small businesses was being under-reported because owners had lost their faith in the Police and the authorities. Shop owners had taken security measures themselves, he said, but more needed to be done by the government because it was not a safe environment.

He said that the dairy owners have spent a lot of money to ensure that they have proper lighting, and security cameras and some have fog cannons to keep themselves safe but with the frequency of ram raids and burglaries on the rise, owners feel that offenders had no fear of law or of being caught.

Security request refused

The dairy where the incident took place wanted fog cannons and other security but was turned down, according to the local neighbourhood support group.

Sandringham Neighbourhood Support coordinator John McCaffery said that they supported the superette owners’ attempts to get more security at the shop but the Police turned them down.

The group was working with them to get fog cannons and other services for the dairy and the added factor in the request for security was that the owners and family lived on-site, he said.

“We wrote a letter asking him to approach the Police,  which he did. We believe that twice he was visited or contacted by the Police and turned down as not being a priority. They did not give him the reasons but I know that everyone was distressed that there was no support coming,” he said.

Many Dairy Owners, mostly of Indian origin say they are now feeling unsafe and this gruesome act of violence is bound to create more fear in the community.

Feelings of Grief, helplessness and Fear in Community (photo Supplied)

Sorrow in Community

The news has been received with great sadness in Hamilton, where the victim’s family lives. The family reached Auckland this morning for the formalities and efforts are being made to support the family by the Waikato Retailers and Dairy owners.

Manish Thakkar, a dairy owner and one of the most vocal campaigners for the safety of business owners for more than seven years in the Waikato region told Indian Newslink that “After repeated meetings with Ministers, it is surprising that no action has been taken. Just last month, we had a meeting with Police Minister Chris Hopkins. I told him that it will end up with one of us dying and sadly it has now come true. I feel as if we are not being taken seriously, and as if our lives have any less value,” he said.

Fiji Girmit Foundation NZ President Krish Naidu has been advocate for added safety in dairies and convenience stores which have a large number of owners of Fijian origin.

He said that it was disappointing for the Indian Diaspora to live under constant fear, simply to earn a living.

“The Fiji Indian community is one of the most active communities involved in the dairy and retail business. We work in an industry that is tough with long hours, work pressures, and physical stress along with Covid causing mayhem on our livelihood. But the fear of life is unparalleled by anything else. We need solutions and we needed them yesterday,” he told Indian Newslink.

“We all knew it was coming but were hoping it never did he said. It brings back horror memories of the brutal and equally tragic Henderson homicide incident,” Mr Naidu said.

Jacinda Ardern ‘horrified’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reacted to the “horrific” fatal stabbing through a Facebook post. Ardern said she would continue to seek updates from the police and would share any new information.

“For now, what I do know is that no one should fear their loved one going to work. No one should have to confront such senseless violence or crime. To the family whom today mourns their lost loved one – I am so sorry this has happened,” she said.

Letters to Indian Newslink say that the community is reeling from a tragedy which could have been averted.

This is a tragedy which we knew would unfold, and a tragedy which no one wanted to take place. This is a rude wake-up call for the Nation.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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