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South Auckland violence tackled

Published: 11:25AM Tuesday September 19, 2006 Source: One News/Newstalk ZB

The government has launched a plan to take on South Auckland's street violence problem.

It comes as three teenagers faced court following the latest killing in the area..

Gheorghe Simion was severely beaten in the Mangere town centre on Sunday morning. The 36-year-old died in hospital the next day.

It is the seventh homicide in South Auckland in just three months.

Minister for Social Development and Employment David Benson-Pope says one unnecessary violent death is one too many.

"And we've had - is it seven too many in recent times - it's just terrible."

A 26-point action plan to tackle the problem has been unveiled by the ministries of Education, Justice and Social Development, local councils and police.

The crucial focus is on education.

"Ensuring young people are at school, that they are learning something, that they get some qualifications," says Education Minister Steve Maharey.

On the frontline, the plan includes a stronger street presence from both Maori and Pacific wardens. Some have already started and in Mangere where Simion was killed patrols will start next weekend.

They will be backed up by 20 youth workers.

"Some of them are working right now and I was told last weekend that they already defused a couple of really potentially nasty incidents at the same time as that previous baseball bat killing," says Benson-Pope.

The homicides started in June with the Kahui twins case. The six others that followed have all seen arrests, but big police numbers are still assigned to the cases to take them to court. 

More than half of the deaths are street gang related.

"The level of violence, the kind of violence that you see in our community is incredibly worrying right now," says Maharey.

All the agencies expect quick results and the plan is to target other violent areas.

Three teenagers, one aged 17 and two 19, appeared in the  Manukau District Court court on Tuesday, jointly charged with the assault of Simion.

The three men were remanded in custody by consent and granted interim name suppression.

Police say it is likely more serious charges will be laid.