Dunedin City Council Mayor, Jules Radich says he is saddened over reports of a suspected ‘hate crime’ arson attack on the home of a Syrian refugee family living in Mosgiel in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Mayor said the behaviour “flies in the face of the values of hospitality, equality and inclusion which our community hold so dear”.
“It simply won’t be tolerated,” the Mayor said today. “I am very saddened to hear of such completely unacceptable behaviour in our community.”
Council Community Development staff today visited the family to offer them support.
“We are working closely alongside relevant agencies to discuss and action what can be done to enhance the safety of the family and the wider neighbourhood,” the Mayor said.
“We encourage any residents who can to donate to the Givealittle campaign set up by the community to support the family and stamp out racism. We are also working with the community to see how we can support a neighbourhood-initiated event to take place later this month.
“As much as I am appalled by the behaviour, I am proud of the large number of people in the community who have already rallied behind the family and shown their solidarity with them.”
Police investigating the arson arson have released a photograph of a man (pictured) seen entering the property before the blaze broke out.
“The man was seen entering the property two evenings prior to the arson, at around 12.50am on 2 July,” Southern District Police said in an online statement.
“We know the image isn’t the best quality, but we’re hoping someone will recognise the clothing and be able to assist us.
“If you can help, please get un touch via our 105 phone service or online at https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105, using Update My Report. Please reference file number 230704/6175.”
The family’s home is also understood to have been ‘egged’ in recent weeks.