Friday, December 1, 2023

Labour to strengthen stalking law following woman’s murder

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Farzana Yaqubi was stalked by her killer before he stabbed her to death in Auckland on December 19 last year. Photo supplied

A young woman’s brutal murder by an east Auckland man has led the Labour Party to announce it will strengthen laws relating to stalking and harassment if re-elected to Government.

As the Times recently reported, Kanwarpal Singh, who lived in East Tamaki, was sentenced in the Auckland High Court in August to serve a minimum of 17 years in prison for the murder of Farzana Yaqubi.

The summary of facts in the case shows Yaqubi contacted police about Singh’s “harassing” behaviour on multiple occasions prior to her death.

Singh, 30, was working as a security guard in Auckland CBD in September, 2020, while Yaqubi, 21, was a student at Auckland University of Technology.

On one occasion she passed Singh’s workplace and he struck up a conversation with her and invited her on a coffee date.

Following this he began to continuously message her via social media.

“As a result, she blocked Singh on her social media accounts,” the court document states.

“In 2021 and 2022, Singh created multiple new social media accounts and contacted Ms Yaqubi on these.

“Singh began threatening Ms Yaqubi via these accounts.”

He threatened to kidnap her and to throw acid on her face.

Singh added Yaqubi’s family members and friends on social media in an attempt to contact her.

On October 25 last year she made an online report to police about his “harassing” behaviour.

One day in early December, Yaqubi noticed Singh following her at an Auckland shopping centre and approached a security guard for assistance.

Singh used social media the next day to send her a video taken outside her home address.

He also had a pizza delivered to her home.

Yaqubi went to a police station in west Auckland and made a statement about his “stalking” behaviour.

On December 19, she finished work and caught a bus to the west Auckland suburb of Royal Heights.

She got off the bus and entered an alleyway beside Waitakere Badminton Centre, the court document states.

“Singh was waiting in his Toyota vehicle … parked in the rear carpark of the Waitakere Badminton Centre.

“Singh saw Ms Yaqubi walking in the alleyway and approached her with a large knife in his hand.”

She tried to phone police as Singh approached her and stabbed her multiple times in the stomach and chest with the knife.

As Yaqubi fell to the ground screaming, Singh stood over her and continued stabbing her before fleeing in his vehicle.

She was tragically pronounced dead at the scene.

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Chris Hipkins announced on September 7 if his party is re-elected at this year’s general election it will strengthen legal protections against stalking and harassment.

He says it will also add an extra 300 police officers, further crackdown on gang leaders and disruptive gang convoys, and review the reparation system to speed up payments for victims.

“We will go further for victims in relation to stalking and harassment by modernising our laws, to bring them in line with overseas jurisdictions,” Hipkins says.

“This will include exploring the possibility of creating an offence for stalking with a penalty of imprisonment.”

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