Funeral for slain taxi driver Hiren Mohini
BY DAVID GADD AND MICHAEL FOX
The funeral service for slain taxi driver Hiren Mohini has heard from family members who described the killing as an "unimaginable and incomprehendable event" which had sent shockwaves around the world to all of the Mohini family.
Mr Mohini was killed in a "frenzied" knife attack in View Rd, Mt Eden, in the early hours of Sunday morning after picking up a fare near Sky City in Auckland's CBD.
Family members described Mr Mohini, known to them as Bunty, as a quiet, hard-working and gentle man who grew up in the suburbs of Mumbai, always determined to do his best for his family.
They called the as-yet unknown killer a "barbaric person".
"We want to thank everybody for their support. It has enabled us to grieve and draw strength and courage through this loss," said Bhavin Khatri.
The service for Mr Mohini - who leaves a wife, Falguni, and two young children - was punctuated by prayers and song.
Mr Mohini's body lay in an open casket throughout the service.
Taxi drivers attending the funeral were united in saying they were horrified by what had happened to their colleague.
"I am totally shocked, it is unbelievable," said Aman Chatrath.
He said he and other drivers said they were no longer working nights because of fears for their safety.
PLEA TO POLITICIANS
Taxi Federation chief Tim Reddish has used the funeral to make a plea to politicians.
"Enough is enough" he said.
Mr Reddish said today's was the second funeral of a taxi driver that he had attended in 14 months.
He called for security cameras to be made mandatory in all cabs "so we are not back here again."
Mr Reddish paid tribute to Mr Mohini, saying he was "kind, generous and humble in spirit, and God knows we need more people like that."
Labour leader Phil Goff, also attending the funeral, said he was throwing his weight behind the Taxi Federation's call for further safety measures in cabs.
Earlier, the hearse carrying Mr Mohini's body arrived at Waikumete Cemetery in Auckland with a cavalcade of 300 taxis behind it.
Most of the taxis at the funeral today were flying black flags from their radio aerials as a mark of respect.
Mr Mohini's coffin was taken from the hearse into the crematorium through an honour guard of taxi drivers.
BLOODY BAG FOUND
Police have found a bloody bag near where Mr Mohini was stabbed to death which they hope might help lead them to his killer.
Inquiry head Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones said the bag which was found on Monday night does not belong to anyone in the area.
Mr Jones said the bag was royal blue with a black synthetic fabric shoulder strap. There is a logo written in white on the bag which has the capital letters "DA" above the words "Dicon Aibi". It is tubular in shape and measures 34cm in width and has a 19cm circumference.
"The logo is unusual and the bag itself does not belong to the resident or any of the immediate neighbours. Add to that the presence of the blood on it and I'd say it's fairly important we track down whoever left it in the neighbourhood or someone who knows who did," he said.
Mr Jones said they still did not know what was behind the attack but did not suspect that it was a robbery.
"[Mr Mohini] died at the end of a paltry $15.20 unpaid fare after about an eight-minute journey from the city centre to View Rd in Mt Eden.
"We're keen to hear from anyone who might have seen a person carrying the bag we've recovered either in the city prior to or, getting into his Auckland Co-op taxi near Sky City, at about 1.12am on Sunday."
Other items of interest to the investigation were found near where Mr Mohini died, including a knife which is being forensically examined.
Mr Jones said they would also like to hear from any residents in the area who were missing clothes.
"It's possible clothing that is foreign to residents has been dumped in the area or that washing has gone missing off clothes lines. We need to hear about anything unusual, no matter how seemingly insignificant, which might help us track down whoever killed Mr Mohini."
The killing had prompted an outpouring of sympathy from family and friends and fellow taxi drivers and Auckland Co-op Taxis said new procedures would be put in place to keep drivers safe.
General manger Barry White said the focus now was ensuring Mr Mohini's family had all the support it needed.
However, he also said driver safety was paramount and the company would move quickly.
New safety measures could include screens, cameras and flak jackets or protective clothing.
Police said the team hunting for his killer had been increased to 40 and every resource was being made available.
Police urged people to call the homicide hotline on 0800 444 014 or the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
- with NZPA
- © Fairfax NZ News
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