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Hundreds of dairy owners across country close shops to protest in wake of worker’s death

Wellington Dairy owner protest

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Dairy owners protest outside Grant Robertson’s office in Wellington.
Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Dairy owners across the country have closed their shops and hundreds of people have protested in solidarity of a worker fatally stabbed last week.

Janak Patel, 34, died while working at Rose Cottage Superette in Auckland’s Sandringham on 23 November.

A nation-wide protest began today at 12:30pm with dairies and retailers closing their stores and in some cases gathering outside MP offices.

Funeral programme for Janak Patel who was killed while working at Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham following a robbery.

Janak Patel died on 23 November.
Photo: RNZ / Rayssa Almeida

In Auckland, people were protesting outside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Mt Albert electorate office while those in Wellington were outside Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson’s office.

Others were gathering at a reserve in Sandringham to stand in solidarity for Patel, Sandringham Business Association Chairperson Jithin Chittibomma said.

Chittibomma was expecting at least 75 business owners to gather at the reserve.

A sign reading 'Justice for Janak' among flowers and candles outside the Rose Cottage Supererette in Sandringham, 28 November, 2022.

A sign reading ‘Justice for Janak’ among flowers and candles outside the Rose Cottage Supererette in Sandringham on Monday.
Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

He hoped the protests would create change as dairy owners were angry at what had happened.

The more the incident resulting in Patel’s death was thought of and talked about, the more the community thought it could have been avoided, Chittibomma said.

To have so many businesses shut their doors for two hours during a “peak” showed it was an important issue, he said.

Wellington Dairy owner protest


Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

“That’s telling something.”

In Sandringham, it was not just dairy owners closing their doors. An RNZ reporter in the area said a butcher, travel agency and local cafe had also closed to show support.

In a stretch of shops, just the pharmacy remained open, the reporter said.

Shops in Sandringham closed their doors in protest against violence faced by workers. The action is in response to the fatal stabbing of Janak Patel at a Sandringham dairy.

Sandringham shops close their doors to show support for dairy owners and Janak Patel.
Photo: RNZ / Finn Blackwell

Meanwhile, at least 100 people had gathered at Ardern’s electorate office in Mt Albert.

ACT Party leader David Seymour was among the crowd.

People were waving signs, calling for more action from the government and some were wearing black arm bands as they mourned Patel.

Wellington Dairy owner protest


Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

About 150 people, mostly dairy owners, turned out to the Wellington protest outside Grant Robertson’s office.

Many of them had stories of robberies and ramraids.

They wanted to see better protection for shop owners, like fog canons, better policing, and harsher repercussions for offenders.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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