The murder of a 35-year-old Indian in the South Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe last week fuelled speculation that it may have been racially motivated, which the Counties Manukau Police quickly discounted, confirming that they have gathered the requisite evidence to pursue the case.
Davender Singh was found dead in his car on Norman Spencer Drive on Thursday, August 7, 2014. The Police launched a homicide investigation named ‘Operation Bastille,’ drafting 20 detectives and carried out a thorough scene examination including the area and the car in which his body was found.
Less than 48 hours later (Saturday August 9), the Detectives arrested a 31-year-old female and a 28-year-old male in relation to the death of Mr Singh, based on the CCTV footage retrieved from a nearby commercial establishment.
They appeared at the Manukau District Court on the same day and were jointly charged with the murder. They were however granted name suppression in order to notify family members in India.
The CCTV footage confirmed that Mr Singh and his partner stopped outside the Manukau Events Centre in their vehicle at approximately 720 pm on August 7. It was evident from the footage that at the time when Mr Singh was murdered, a large number of vehicles including a number of buses passed the vehicle.
An item of interest (a personal belonging of the victim) was located in Kenderdine Road, Papatoetoe. `
Detective Inspector Dave Lynch, who is leading the investigation, said that the Detective Police located a weapon of interest to the investigation on August 11.
Stating that the Police were not looking for anyone else in relation to the murder of Mr Singh, Inspector Lynch said, ““We are no longer seeking public assistance regarding the investigation of this investigation. We will continue to work with the community to ensure that they feel safe,” he said.
He said that some media reports had wrongly attributed the motive of the murder as robbery.
“We are satisfied that robbery was not the motive. We are also well aware that the investigation has attracted intense interest within the Indian community and we ask that people stay patient and allow Police time to work through an investigation and fact-finding process,” he said.
Daljit Singh, Spokesman for the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand said that his Organisation was shocked to hear of the tragedy.
“Our thoughts are with the victim’s parents and child in India. We appreciate the tireless investigation carried out by the Police. We confirm that this was not a racist attack and strongly believe that justice will be served to the family of the victim in India,” he said.
Mr Daljit Singh said that the body of Davender Singh would be flown to India today (August 15) in a Singapore Airlines flight and that the related costs have been paid by the Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand.
He said that Davender Singh had arrived from his native Rajasthan seven years ago and was employed as an upholsterer in a Mangere based company.
Harshad Patel, President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) expressed condolences to the family of Davender Singh on behalf of the Indian community.
“All of us are shocked and pray that the departed soul to rest in peace. We thank the investigating officers for the speed at which they arrested the culprits. This was certainly not a racist attack as the victim and the accused appear to be of Indian origin,” he said.
Mr Patel said that NZICA would like ‘full justice’ done in this case and that the culprits should be punished with a stronger sentence as per the provisions of the law.