Sister’s plea over dairy stabbing death

The sister of a dairy worker fatally stabbed on the job has said her family need “justice” over the tragic killing.

As a post-mortem examination was being carried out today on the body of Janak Patel (34), his sister told the New Zealand Herald via an in intermediary: “I need justice for my brother.

“We urge the New Zealand Government to urgently catch the criminal who has taken our brother’s life and hold the murderer accountable and give him the toughest punishment.”

Mr Patel was fatally stabbed when he confronted a robber outside the Sandringham store he was working in on Wednesday night. He had been working at the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham.

The dairy worker, who friends described as polite and friendly, had relocated to Auckland from Hamilton only last week to look after the dairy while the owners were overseas.

Police say he was stabbed several times 100 metres from the store after he confronted a thief who had stolen the cash register around 8pm on Wednesday.

The man, who was newly married, managed to make it back to the dairy, where emergency services were called, but died from his injuries.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard, of Auckland City CIB, who is heading the inquiry, has repeated his call for anyone who witnessed the altercation that occurred, or believe they saw the offender on foot, before or after the incident, to come forward and talk to police.

“We also continue to appeal to those in the community who know who the offender is, to do the right thing and contact us,” Detective Inspector Beard said in a statement.

Meanwhile, dairy owners have announced they will hold a nationwide protest after the death.

They said more needed to be done to protect workers.

Dairy and Business Association chairperson Sunny Kaushal said the protest would be held once the funeral for Mr Patel has been completed.

He said the small businesses want action, rather than empathy, from the government.

However, the initial priority will be to assist Patel’s family with funeral arrangements.

A post-mortem examination is being conducted today, police said.

Police also wanted to acknowledge residents living within the cordon and the surrounding areas and thank them for their cooperation, Beard said.

He also thanked those who had already provided information.

Cordons remain in place and are expected to be lifted later today or tomorrow.

PM says she will visit electorate

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is defending her decision not to travel to her local electorate to be with grieving members of the Sandringham community.

Ardern, speaking to media from the Chatham Islands where she was visiting for the first time, said she had directly contacted some community leaders concerning the man’s death but said she was wary of disturbing a grieving family.

“It is my local community so I will be looking to be present there as soon as I’m able to, but I’m also very aware there’s a family grieving and there is an active police investigation into a homicide and I do need to delicately balance being in the right place in the right time.”

Ardern rejected any suggestion her not being in Sandringham represented a Government not doing enough to address crime, noting that there was a time and place when the man’s family might want to engage politicians.

Act Party leader David Seymour said Ardern not choosing to be in her Mt Albert electorate where the incident took place showed a “complete lack of judgment”.

“Instead of dropping everything to be in her electorate today and making the response to retail crime a priority, she is on a plane to the Chathams. A trip she could have easily postponed.

“Jacinda Ardern should be in Mt Albert today and nothing should have got in the way of that.”