Western Bay of Plenty residents calling for dangerous stretch of road to be made safer

There have been five serious crashes since December and the community is demanding answers. Source: 1 NEWS



Death toll rises to 86 in Tanzania ferry sinking

The death toll has risen to 86 today after a ferry capsized and sank on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, a local official said.

The toll is likely to rise further as search and rescue operations continue, said John Mongella, commissioner for the Mwanza region.

At least 37 people were rescued from the sunken ferry as of Thursday evening, while rescue teams called off their mission overnight.

It is not clear how many people were on board. Such ferries often carry hundreds of people and are overcrowded.

No foreigners have been found among the dead, Mwanza police commander Jonathan Shanna said today.

The passenger ferry MV Nyerere was traveling between Ukara and Bugolora on Thursday afternoon when it sank, according to the government agency in charge of servicing the vessels.

Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Some of the deadliest have occurred in Tanzania, where passenger boats are often said to be old and in poor condition.

In 1996, more than 800 people were killed when the passenger and cargo ferry MV Bukoba sank on Lake Victoria.

Nearly 200 people died in 2011 when the MV Spice Islander I sank off Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast near Zanzibar.

More than 300 people were on board the ferry on Lake Victoria in Tanzania when disaster struck just metres from shore. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Auckland lawyer sentenced for helping human trafficker

They were promised high wages, free food and accommodation, but instead they were paid just a fraction of what they were promised and forced to live in squalid, cramped conditions.

Today, the lawyer who helped a human trafficker fool Immigration New Zealand was sentenced to 10 months home detention with six months post release conditions and $1575 in reparations to the workers.

In 2014, Mohammed Idris Hanif provided legal services to Faroz Ali, who was found guilty of human trafficking in 2016 - the first conviction of its kind in New Zealand.

Hanif gave false and misleading visitor visa applications on behalf of the Fijian workers, so that the workers Ali had trafficked into New Zealand could continue working in his gib-fixing business.

Hanif provided applications on five separate occasions that stated the Fijian workers were genuine tourists, who were in New Zealand to sight-see and visit friends and family, which was false.

Hanif was used to appearing at the lawyers' benches of Manukau District Court but today he was in the dock.

He maintains his innocence and applied for a discharge without conviction, saying the charges were trivial.

The application was opposed by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment lawyer Shona Carr said Hanif provided false information to authorities on who and who should not be allowed in New Zealand.

She said the vicitms of the offending - poor workers from Fiji - had spent so much on getting to New Zealand that they could not pull out of the scam because they had to try and recover the money they had borrowed from friends and relatives.

"The victims were embarrassed and ashamed and left unable to repay their debt."

She said it would not be appropriate to give Hanif a discharge without conviction when he maintained his innocence.

Judge Gregory Hikaka said the matter was serious as it involved misleading Government officials who relied on lawyers to be honest.

The judge said the workers spent their time in New Zealand in squalid conditions and returned to Fiji in debt to friends and family.

Hanif has been a lawyer since 1987 but now his practising certificate has expired but the Law Society are aware of the charges and he still faces disciplinary action.

He's also been ordered to pay $1575 dollars in reparation to the workers.

Ali, the man who promised the migrants everything, only to exploit them was found guilty of bringing in vulnerable Fijian workers and exploiting them in 2016.

Justice Heath sentenced Ali to nine-and-a-half years in prison for 57 charges, including people trafficking, which he described as an "abhorrent" crime.

Ali headed an organisation that ran advertisements in a Fijian newspaper, promising people orchard and construction work in New Zealand at seven or eight times their pay.

They were charged exorbitant fees to travel to New Zealand, but when they arrived they were forced to sleep on the floor and had rent and food costs deducted from their pay.

Suliana Vetanivula was one of the workers, and her victim impact statement was read by Crown prosecutor Luke Clancy at Ali's sentencing.

"When I go out I feel ashamed to see the people I owe in my village. When I came to them for help, they were ready to help me and in return I didn't do my part. When I returned to the village I felt like I was not wanted anymore, like everybody sees me as a failure.

"It was like I stole money from them because they know that whoever goes to Australia or New Zealand for work, they come back with a lot of money."

Mr Clancy said Ali had expressed no remorse whatsoever and owed the workers $128,000 in fees and outstanding wages. He said that figure did not include the profit Ali made from their labour.

Ali's lawyer, Peter Broad, said his client had no other money available and was facing bankruptcy after being pursued by the Inland Revenue Department for a $126,000 tax bill.

Justice Heath said some of the workers were sent to the Bay of Plenty for orchard work, where the accommodation was shamefully poor.

"Three married women and one married man were taken to a house near Pyes Pa and told they would be staying in the basement with other people. There was no bedding to speak of and only one mattress was available. This in July 2014, in the midst of a New Zealand winter. That must have been extremely cold for people travelling from the tropical warmth of Fiji."

In sentencing Ali, the judge ordered him to pay reparation of $28,000 to refund the fees the workers paid.

"People trafficking is an abhorrent crime. It is a crime against human dignity. It undermines the respect that all of us should have for the human rights and the autonomy of individual people. Such conduct degrades human life. It is a crime that should be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

By Edward Gay

rnz.co.nz

Mohammed Idris Hanif
Mohammed Idris Hanif Source: rnz.co.nz

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Detector dogs in prisons sniff out nearly one synthetic cannabis sample a week

A small group of specially trained detector dogs are sniffing out synthetic drugs in New Zealand’s prisons. 

Five dogs have been in action since March, searching for ever-changing psychoactive substances smuggled into prisons. 

Since then, the dogs have retrieved 33 samples of synthetic cannabis, nearly one a week. But that's nowhere near as high as other drugs that are found. 

But the Ministry of Corrections said it's front-footing potential prison deaths from synthetics after inmate fatalities overseas.

"It is on our streets, it is affecting our communities, so as a team the dog handlers felt that they wanted to front foot this emerging threat," Manager Specialist Search Jay Mills told 1 NEWS.

"We have a duty of care to our prisoners, our staff and our prisoners ensuring we keep our site safe."

It’s something Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis supports.

"We know that psychoactive substances are out in the streets, in our communities and we would be naive to think people aren't trying to get them into our prisons," Mr Davis said. 

Corrections is working with the Ministry of Health, and Environmental Science and Research (ESR) to improve the scope of ingredients they can detect. 

"NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) is extremely difficult to keep on top of, in terms of the chemical makeup of the drug," Mr Mills said. 

It’s a tough job for both the dog, and trainers.

"We match it up to what we're searching for currently and if we see any differences or irregularities with ingredients it means we can go back to our training room and load our dogs with that odour. So we are constantly staying ahead of what's out there today," dog trainer Ricky Trevithick said. 

Training for the five dogs will be on-going, with ingredients constantly changing and new batches constantly coming onto the drug market.

1 NEWS reporter Emily Cooper has the exclusive details. Source: 1 NEWS


Accused Kiwi conman's partner arrested in Australia on multiple charges including indecent assault

The partner of a New Zealand man who was deported from Australia over two years ago after the couple arrived in Sydney on a stolen yacht has herself now been arrested in Australia on multiple charges including supplying ecstasy to a 15-year-old girl and indecently assaulting her.

Christchurch Police have told TVNZ tonight that Australian Federal Police, acting on New Zealand-endorsed extradition warrants, arrested Simone Smith, AKA Simone Wright, in New South Wales on Tuesday this week.

She was arrested on charges of supplying a girl aged 15 with the class B drug ecstasy, the indecent assault of the same girl, multiple charges of fraud and theft of a yacht, Detective Craig Farrant of Christchurch Police said. 

She has been remanded in custody to reappear in court in Australia on September 28.  

Her partner, Paul James Bennett, was arrested in Australia when the couple arrived in Sydney on a stolen yacht from New Zealand.

Bennett was deported back to New Zealand on May 13, 2016. He was taken into custody at Christchurch Airport and taken to court next day on 48 charges stretching back to 2008.  

These were 28 charges of dishonestly using documents or obtaining funds, 10 of forgery, five of theft, three of supplying a girl aged 15 with the class B drug ecstasy, and two of indecently assaulting the same girl. 

The total involved in the alleged dishonesty offending is $567,000 and Bennett's case is currently proceeding before the court.

Bennett had been on the run until being arrested aboard a yacht moored on the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney in February 2016 .

The yacht had been stolen from the Bay of Islands the previous year.

Simone Wright and Paul James Bennett..