Support flows in for abused cabbie

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 04/09/2014

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A Queenstown taxi boss says he has been fielding calls from people saying "well done" as they support his driver who was racially abused by a policewoman.

Policewoman Jeanette May McNee, 44, known as Jenny, was found guilty on Tuesday of a charge of using insulting words to Malaysian taxi driver Ganesh Paramanathan in Queenstown on November 3.

Yesterday, Queenstown Taxis managing director Grant Scannell said friends and even strangers had called to say "well done".

"When Ganesh first came to me he was worried about going to the police because in his country things are a lot different.

"He was worried there would be repercussions but I said no, in the New Zealand justice system that would not happen.

"The last couple of days have just been crazy. I have actually had emails from people I don't even know. Ganesh has received quite a few calls from Malaysia, he still has family out there."

Scannell said the firm employed lots of nationalities and, from time to time, there were instances of racial abuse.

The company aimed to educate drivers to deal with racist customers.

"Everybody takes a bit of abuse [as a taxi driver]."

Queenstown Taxis has installed a new security system in all of the firm's 58 vehicles.

The system uses "panic buttons" linked to recording and logging software, and if drivers are threatened they can push a button to record video and audio.

In McNee's case, there was no audio track of the incident captured on a taxi-cam about 3am.

Judge Tony Couch - who did not enter a conviction pending an application for a discharge without conviction - found McNee used the words: "F... off to India, you come here and get all the Kiwi jobs. Eat your f...... curry and f... off to India. This is a Kiwi job."

The trial has been picked up by several major news outlets in India and Malaysia, including the New Indian Express, The Times of India, New Delhi Television and Malaysian websites the Rakyat Post and Free Malaysia Today.

McNee was remanded at large to a nominal date of September 23.

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- The Southland Times

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