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Members of the South Auckland community are relieved after charges have been laid following the fatal shooting of a woman in her home more than a year ago.
Meliame Fisi’ihoi was shot dead in the early hours of January 15, 2020.
Three men, aged 19, 22 and 28, jointly charged with the murder of the South Auckland woman have made their first appearance at Manukau District Court.
All three appeared separately before the court.
They have been remanded in custody until their next appearance at the Auckland High Court on May 5.
The 57-year-old grandmother’s death sent shock waves through South Auckland just over a year ago when it was revealed she had been shot through the window of her front door after waking up to answer it about 2.45am that fateful day.
She had been watching television in the sitting room when she got up to investigate a noise coming from outside.
Since the trio of arrests, members of the community have offered support to the woman’s family, and also spoken of their relief over the arrests.
South Auckland Tongan community leader Will ‘Ilolahia said he was “totally relieved”.
“There were a lot of women – and especially Tongan women – who were really scared to answer the door after that,” ‘Ilolahia said.
Police made several public appeals for anyone with information to come forward in the hopes of helping officers involved in the investigation – dubbed Operation Truro.
Pamphlets bearing Fisi’ihoi’s smiling face were distributed in and around the Favona and wider Māngere and nearby South Auckland suburbs.
Māngere MP Aupito William Sio was among community and Pasifika leaders who at the time made a direct appeal to those responsible – or anyone who knew them – to do the right thing.
“I know it’s sometimes difficult to tell on your relatives or people who are related to you, but … they’re not helping them at all, by hiding them,” Sio said a week after the killing.
“When we are silent on this evil that’s been committed, we are also participating and allowing it to happen.”
‘Ilolahia was more direct and called on Fisi’ihoi’s killer or killers to think of their own mothers.
“That person has a mum too – and on that alone, he or she should give up.”
Last December, just a month out from the one-year anniversary of the incident, police released images of a vehicle of interest.
The car had been caught on CCTV footage speeding down parts of Māngere, Ōtāhuhu and Flat Bush.
Police faced criticism during investigation
The information came as people within the community were getting frustrated at the seeming lack of movement in the investigation.
At one point, authorities faced criticism from people who felt the investigation to bring those responsible to justice was taking too long and that had it happened in a “non-brown suburb” and more affluent suburb, the murder would have been solved sooner.
It was criticism police strongly rejected, however, citing a complex case that involved a significant amount of inquiries and work to be carried out.
Today, Detective Senior Sergeant Karen Bright, of Counties Manukau Police praised officers involved in the investigation and thanked the community.
“Today’s arrests are a credit to the hard work and dedication shown by the Operation Truro investigation team.
“We hope the arrests today provides Mrs Fisi’ihoi’s family with some degree of comfort following what has been an extremely difficult time for them.”
Despite the arrests, police say they are still making inquiries and anyone who may have any further information is urged to contact police.
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