Woman flees attacker in busy traffic

By Alison King

A woman ran into a busy Rotorua road and risked being killed by a car to escape a man who had punched her in the face and was trying to steal her backpack.

But the man may never be caught as she believes lodging a complaint with police may jeopardise her application for New Zealand residency.

The woman, Jennifer, has spoken to the Rotorua Daily Post on the condition her full name is not published.

"Before this happened I would walk everywhere, anytime," she said.

"Every day when I lived in Dunedin I would walk home after 11pm. Now I don't dare to walk in the dark any more. I'm scared people might follow me."

On Tuesday last week around 6.30pm, Jennifer was walking home along Malfroy Rd. She had visited a couple of gyms after work and was not walking her usual route.

"There were two men standing on the other side of the road talking.

They saw me and started shouting at me. They said 'chink, stop'. I didn't listen to them and kept walking faster. They carried on shouting at me. One of them crossed the road towards me and started yelling abuse at me. He asked me for my cellphone but I pretended not to understand.

"He said 'you want to call someone before I kill you'. I was very frightened and there were no people around. I thought I must catch the attention of people who were driving."

She said the man, described as being in his teens and of Maori descent, tried to grab her backpack and there was a struggle. He punched her in the face, leaving her with a black eye and bruised cheek, and during the struggle she ran into the middle of the road. A car with a man and a woman inside stopped and she got in.

"I dared to get in."

They drove off in the direction of her attacker but lost him down Miller St. She was then taken to the police station where she filed a report but she said she did not want to take the matter further as it might jeopardise her residency application.

Jennifer is originally from Beijing, China, a city where there are people on the streets "24/7". She has only been living in Rotorua a month and but already looking for work in Auckland where she thinks she will feel safer due to the larger population.

She has asked to change her work hours so she doesn't have to walk in the dark and her neighbour picks her up so she doesn't have to walk the last 500m home as it is poorly lit and she is frightened.

"It makes me feel angry that she was attacked," a neighbour  said.

"It's unacceptable. She's been left very fearful."

Rotorua police crime manager Inspector Ed Van Den Broek said police encouraged all victims of crime to come forward and make formal complaints.

"If people have trouble with the English language we have translators available who can help."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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