Mangere parents fearful over child rapist

8:17 am on 20 September 2016

Residents at a Mangere meeting say they are living in fear while a child rapist remains in their community.

Meeting organiser Sauni Seleni

Meeting organiser Sauni Seleni said Corrections was "dumping" people in Mangere Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

Corrections yesterday bowed to public pressure and announced it would move the offender next month but residents at a meeing last night said that decision had not come soon enough.

The man was released from prison in May to a home directly across the street from a school. Following complaints, he was moved to another Mangere house, this time 350m from another school.

Corrections said he was electronically monitored, watched by two staff at all times and had so far complied with his conditions.

Northern Operations Director Lynette Cave said public safety was the primary priority.

"He is living at an address that includes locks, alarms and a two metre high fence. No address would be approved if we considered that it presented an unmanageable risk to the safety of the community."

She said the offender would be relcoated to a place outside the Mangere area next month, as the "next phase of his safe reintegration into community life".

"The offender's current accommodation was not intended to be long term," she said.

But at a community meeting at Nga Tapuwae Hall in Mangere last night, 50 residents, mostly parents and grandparents, voiced their anger at why a convicted child rapist was still living there.

Mangere-Otahuhu local board member Lydia Sosene said everyone in the area was scared for their children, and were rethinking their daily activities or changing their children's routes to and from school.

"The mum who is in the house that's in front of where the offender's living, she is very scared for her safety ... her children and her family. That's not a good thing."

Ms Sosene said Corrections had failed to act on the community's concerns for months, and its promise to move the offender next month rang hollow.

"This decision is urgent, because our children ... need to be kept safe. Period."

Sauni Seleni, a father of two and meeting organiser, said the government was treating the Mangere community like "scumbags".

"So what they're doing is dumping people in Mangere thinking that, and sorry to use the word, thinking that we're not humans. So it's time for us parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents to stand up."

Mr Seleni said it made no sense that a man who had no connection or family in Mangere would be relocated there for rehabilitation.

He said affluent neighbourhoods like Remuera and Parnell would never accept a sex offender living near them, and that should be no different for the people of Mangere.

"Our voice is the same as the people in those areas, even though the colour of our skins are different. I hate to use the racist card here, but when you think about it, putting someone who's not from our area here, what does that tell us?

"We try to be religious, we try to be Christian, we try to be diplomatic, but nothing helps us."

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio addressing the meeting.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio addressing the meeting. Photo: RNZ / Mohamed Hassan

The meeting ended with a vote to take action, starting with a rally in Mangere Town Centre on 15 October. If that doesn't work, they will take the protest to the house of the sex offender.

"Our right to safety is superior than someone's right to rehabilitate, especially if they are not from this area," said Mr Seleni.

Petition on public protection orders

The man had been released after a failed High Court bid by Corrections for him to be subject to a Public Protection Order which would have seen him held on prison grounds. The court imposed an Extended Supervision Order for a period of seven years, beginning with six months intensive monitoring.

But Su'a William Sio said not enough was done to keep him away from communities.

"The fact that Corrections has classified this man as at high risk of reoffending is really concerning to parents. "I've heard they intend on moving him, but this community won't believe that until we see it happen."

A petition was launched yesterday calling on the government to legislate to ensure all sex offenders are automatically granted a PPO to keep them from being relocated near schools. It will be presented to Parliament by Su'a William Sio in November.

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