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Slain Auckland taxi driver farewelled

Published: 2:49PM Thursday February 04, 2010 Source: Newstalk ZB/NZPA/ONE News

The Auckland taxi driver slain last weekend has been farewelled by grieving relatives and friends.

Relatives of Hiren Mohini told mourners at his funeral on Thursday afternoon his death was an "unimaginable and unfathomable event" and described his killer as "barbaric".

The 39-year-old father of two young girls was described as a hard working, gentle man who was always smiling by his family.

They described his killing as an "unimaginable and incomprehensible event".

"We want to thank everybody for their support. It has enabled us to grieve and draw strength and courage through this loss," said one family member Bhavin Khatri.

Prayers and songs filled the air, as Mohini's body lay in an open casket.

Around 300 taxis drove in convoy through west Auckland to Kelston's Waikumete Cemetery for his burial, bringing the streets to a standstill in a tribute to their murdered friend.

Mohini was stabbed several times by a passenger who fled near View Rd in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden early on Sunday morning. He died at the scene.

The attacker fled and police, who describe the killing as a "particularly vicious, brutal and frenzied attack", have appealed for help in finding the attacker.

The killing has prompted an outpouring of sympathy from family, friends and fellow taxi drivers and Auckland Co-op Taxis says new procedures will be put in place to keep drivers safe.

Barry White, general manger of Co-op, says the focus now is ensuring Mohini's family have all the support they need.

Mohini was his family's sole breadwinner, and Co-op has started an appeal for the family.

However, White also says driver safety is paramount and the company will move quickly.

New safety measures could include screens, cameras and flak jackets or protective clothing.

Taxi Federation chief Tim Reddish has also pleaded for more safety measures in cabs.

"Enough is enough," he says. "We must act now, to protect vulnerable and defenceless taxi drivers."

Reddish says it is the second taxi driver's funeral he has attended in 14 months and security cameras should be mandatory in all cabs "so we are not back here again".

Some drivers, shocked at the brutal death of their colleague, say they will no longer work at nights because they are scared they too will be attacked like Mohini.

They say they want Mohini's killer caught, and they plan to be there at any court hearing.

Also at the funeral was Labour leader Phil Goff.

Goff met with the family of Mohini and has written to the Transport Minister with suggestions on how taxi drivers can be kept safe in the future.

He says as a tribute to Mohini it is important to try to prevent a similar tragedy affecting yet another family.

A team of police are still trying to track down the person responsible for stabbing Mohini.

Anyone with information can call the hotline on 0800 444 014 or the anonymous Crimestoppers number, 0800 555 111.