There is a growing memorial of flowers and tributes outside the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham ahead of a candlelit vigil to pay respects to Janak Patel who was killed while working a shift on Wednesday night.
Those gathered have packed the footpath and are observing a minute of silence after a short speech by Migrant Workers Association president Anu Kaloti.
”It’s important to unite as a community to be in solidarity with Janak’s family.”
She called on the Government to take action in the wake of the death, however, she spoke out against calls for “tough on crime” policies which she said had failed in the past and would fail now.
”That’s not going to cut it.”
Kaloti said the country needed to look at the material conditions that had led to an environment where crime was thriving.
”This is not Aotearoa,” she said
Unite Union organiser Joe Carolan also addressed the crowd calling for community solidarity.
”We need to have a culture of community where we help each other,” Carolan said.
”No more murder or greed.”
Wayne Orbell is one of the dozens of people who gathered at the vigil for the slain dairy worker.
He grew up in the 1980s and 90s in the now demolished row of state houses on Haverstock Rd near the shop, known back in the day as “the pink dairy”.
Now living in Mt Roskill, Orbell fondly remembered spending hours playing Space Invaders and then running home for dinner when the street lights came on.
”We used to spend our whole days playing Spaceys here.”
He was shocked to hear of Patel’s death this week in an alleged aggravated robbery and said he came to the vigil to pay his respects.
”It’s my childhood right here.
“It’s the pink dairy.”
The newly-married man was working in the shop while its owners were out of the country, but died shortly after calling for emergency help after being stabbed.
A 34-year-old man with interim name suppression appeared in the Auckland District Court charged with his murder this morning, where he was remanded without plea.
Tonight’s vigil was organised by the Migrant Workers Association, whose president Anu Kaloti said yesterday: “We offer the deepest condolences to Janak’s wife and his family.
“No one should get hurt on the job.
“Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before the most vulnerable workers in our society can feel safe at work.”
Kaloti added: “We must unite and demand answers from the Government and solutions for problems including safety of all workers.”
Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met community leaders and police in Auckland after the killing.
Her visit comes after being earlier criticised by Act Party leader David Seymour for joining a group of fellow MPs on a trip to the Chatham Islands yesterday, instead of spending time in her own electorate where the tragedy occurred.
Ardern later said at a press conference that she had spoken by phone to the dead man’s family.
She was hoping to meet with them face to face after they have laid their loved one to rest.
“This morning I had the opportunity to speak to the family of the dairy worker that died earlier this week,” Ardern said.
“I’ve reached out to the owner and spoken to the family, they are the focus for me.”
Ardern said she had “presided” over a Government that had increased police numbers and resources.
She said sentences had also not lessened.
“We have been looking to add tools, we have not taken them away,” she said. “We have been doing that for some time now.”
Police Minister Chris Hipkins said police were working with retailers to try to do things “to keep themselves safe”.
Individual assessments of stores were being carried out.
Ardern said there was a “spike” in a particular sort of crime. She said that was “horrific”.
“No New Zealander wants them operating under those circumstances.”
Ardern said people should acknowledge the hard work of police in getting an arrest in the homicide.
Dairy and Business Owners Group chairman Sunny Kaushal earlier said Patel’s wife was “in trauma ... she is not speaking”.
Kaushal wrote in an opinion piece for the Herald: “Giving 16-year-olds the vote has the Prime Minister giddy with excitement while the death of a dairy worker in her own electorate generates tea and sympathy.”
He called on the Government to admit there was a “crime emergency” in New Zealand.
“There has to be a wake-up call because something is rotten that a hard-working young man who started work in a dairy, never went home to his spouse,” Kaushal wrote. “We have a crime emergency but we also have a social emergency.”
Police arrested two people on Friday night
A 34-year-old was found at a New Lynn address and charged with aggravated robbery and murder. He appeared in Auckland District Court and has been remanded in custody.
He will next appear in the High Court at Auckland on December 14.
The man, wearing a blue boiler suit, stood calmly in the dock with his hands behind his back. He did not enter a plea before JP Les Smith.
Court documents seen by the Herald show the murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The second charge of aggravated robbery carries a maximum sentence of 14 years.
A second man, 42, was also arrested and has been charged with robbery. He also appeared before Smith today and was remanded in custody to reappear in the Auckland District Court on Monday.
Both men were given interim name suppression.
Police prosecutor Victoria Brooker alleged the 42-year-old man was the driver during the incident and “in communication” with the murder accused.
Prior to two arrests in the homicide investigation launched after the fatal stabbing, Patel’s sister told the Weekend Herald via an intermediary: “I need justice for my brother.”
She called on the killer to be held accountable.