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Prime Minister and Ethnic Communities Minister attended Janak Patel’s funeral


Janak Patel was murdered on 23 November 2022 (Photo: FaceBook)

Thousands gathered at South Auckland’s Ann’s Funeral Home to pay their respects to Janak Patel, the slain dairy worker.

Patel was a victim of an aggravated robbery and murder outside his Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham on Wednesday, 23 November 2022. Patel was stabbed multiple times by a man who allegedly took the till from his dairy. Patel’s death has caused frustration, deep sorrow, and fear in the community, which is pushing for the government to take decisive action to address the spike in crimes in New Zealand.

Criticisms of the government

Prime Minister Jacinda ARdern at the Press Conference on 26 November 2022 (Photo Indian Nwslink)

The Prime Minister on Saturday, 26 November 2022 met with the press at the Auckland Central District Police Headquarters shortly after meeting with the Sandringham Business Association representatives. She fielded questions on why she had not visited the Rose Cottage Superette and why she had not met with the family of the deceased. However, National Leader, Christopher Luxon paid a visit to the dairy and left a flower arrangement earlier on, on 26 November 2022.

In the press conference, the Prime Minister stated that any additional work on tackling the problem of crimes will coalesce efforts of the government, municipalities, and insurers. When Indian Newslink asked why a tragedy had to function as a catalyst for a more substantive conversation about crime prevention and safety, the Prime Minister defended her government record on crime and reiterated that their punitive measures have not been lessened but acknowledged that additional tools could be employed to address the spike in crime.

Both leaders were present at his funeral which was held on 27 November 2022.

Nationwide Protest today

Protest Invite that has been circulating on social media and WhatsApp groups. (Photo: WhatsApp)

It was reported that, according to Sunny Kaushal, president of the Dairy and Business Owners Group, a nationwide protest is planned for today as a mark of respect and protest. Dairies and small businesses in New Zealand will be closed for at least two hours from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm. A vigil will be held in front of Jacinda Ardern’s electoral office in Mt Albert, Auckland, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson’s electoral office in Wellington. Others are also asked to gather outside their MP’s office.

Two men charged.

A 34-year-old man has been charged with aggravated robbery and murder and another 42-year-old charged with robbery.

The climate of fear for businesses.

Indian Newslink spoke to a few businesses and there is generally fear and anxiety among business owners. One business owner said that “my legs tremble every time I get into my shop”.  Another shop owner said that “we have been talking about the need for heightened measures of security for years and nothing has been done yet.” He added that” don’t make this a political issue, we just want solutions.”  Another business owner from another constituency spoke about how she has had four ram raids in a month. “Yes, we do have insurance but the frequency of what has happened makes my company a high-risk business which means my insurance premiums get increased. But more than the money, it is the trauma and fear of the safety of ourselves and our workers that is at stake,” she explained. The store owner also spoke about how she had decided to invest her own resources and build bollards outside her store but had to wait two months for the council to give approval. Interestingly, all three business owners were not aware of the Retail Crime Prevention Programme Funds and all three had requested anonymity which is very telling of the climate of fear under which they operate in.

Retail Crime Prevention Programme Funds

The Proceeds of Crime Fund has committed $6 million to develop the Retail Crime Prevention Programme, which is supervised by Police. However, retailers cannot self-refer to the Program. The Police are tasked to finds suitable retailers through an assessment process. One shop owner commented “the Police should be out fighting crime; this is not their job. I am sure we can outsource the administrative works which should also connect business owners with vendors supplying safety gadgets,”

Currently, Police are selecting eligible businesses by statistical analysis of recent ram raid-style burglaries and ensuring they are small businesses, and this will be followed up with a phone and on-site evaluation. More information on the Retail Crime Prevention Programme can be found on the Police website.

Businesses urge proper information dissemination.

One shopkeeper who spoke with Indian Newslink urged that immediate action be taken to make preventative education mandatory for businesses: education on what preventative measures should be taken to keep the business environment safe, as well as what each employer and owner should do if a robbery occurs on their property. “All employers and employees should be trained on safety precautions like  not confronting the attacker and not even making eye contact, but instead stepping aside or crouching in a corner,” said a business owner of a retail company in Sandringham. “We should be educated on how we can safeguard our premises. There should be more posters, compulsory courses and videos circulated to the community,” she added.

The New Zealand Police website has prevention resources in the form of videos, booklets, and partner vendors’ information that offer tips and prevention tools. Tips include installing a range of complementary prevention tools and using posters to advertise prevention measures  installed in the premises to deter offenders.

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Acukland. 

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