Nationwide protests were held across New Zealand on Monday as police made a third arrest in the fatal stabbing of Indian-origin dairy worker Janak Patel last week.
Protests began across the country at 12.30 p.m. with people turning up in huge numbers shouting ‘enough is enough’ and holding placards reading, ‘change the law’, in front of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electoral office in Auckland’s Mt. Albert, the NZ Herald reported.
Demanding harsher penalties for criminals, dairies across the country shut their stores for two hours to protest against rising robbery cases.
A vigil and a minute’s silence in support of Patel was also held outside Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson’s electoral office in Wellington.
With the crowd spilling into the streets in Auckland, police tried to clear the roads and asked motorists to take a different route.The Auckland Transport asked commuters to avoid the Morningside area and to expect delays, the paper reported.
In Whangarei, around 60 people, mostly dairy workers and owners, gathered in protest outside a Labour electorate office.
“We want a safer community and we want people held to justice,” Ralph Correa of the Northland Indian Association told NZ Herald.
Correa added that following Patel’s killing, dairy owners now fear going to work.
Patel, 34, was stabbed multiple times when he confronted a robber who stole a cash register from the store at Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham, Auckland, where he worked.
He succumbed to his injuries in the hospital, leading police to launch a 48-hour manhunt resulting in the arrest of two men who were charged with murder and aggravated robbery.
A third arrest was made on Sunday, in which a 36-year-old man charged with robbery, was granted interim name suppression and was remanded in custody.
His bail hearing has been set for December 5 in the Auckland District Court.
Prime Minister Ardern was among friends, family and Indian community members who gathered on Sunday in the south Auckland suburb of Wiri to pay last respects to Patel.
Transport Minister Michael Wood, National MP Melissa Lee and Detective Inspector Scott Beard were also present in the funeral service which was open to the public.
A Givealittle page set up for Patel’s family has raised close to $65,000. He had recently got married and wanted to have a house and children.
“This senseless, needless act of violence has destroyed a life full of promise. It has robbed our community of someone trying to make a positive contribution from behind the counter,” the page read.