29 March, 2011

Self-defence in the News - No. 13

Stabbed cabbie calls for taxi screens

"Stabbed cabbie calls for taxi screens"



A taxi driver stabbed seven times in a frenzied attack has called for all cabs to be fitted with protective screens around the drivers.

Shlemon Yako, 60, was stabbed three times in the stomach, once in his left side and three times in his arms, as he dropped off a front-seat passenger at the bottom of Shropshire Ave in the Wellington suburb of Wilton about 12.15am on Saturday.

The Kiwi Cabs driver picked the man up from the Bay Rd taxi stand in Kilbirnie and drove him across town to Wilton via Aro St.

He said the sustained attack, during which he fought with his assailant, had convinced him protective screens should be compulsory. He remains in a stable condition in Wellington Hospital four days after the attack.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Yako, from Baghdad, said: "I put some boxing to his face. I pushed the knife to the floor. After he came out the other door, I caught him. I put his face to the floor." Mr Yako suffered four stomach and abdomen wounds during the attack inside the cab, and three wounds to his arms as the scuffle continued outside.

Wellington CIB said it was investigating the attack, but no arrest had yet been made.

Legislation was introduced for all taxis in larger cities to be fitted with security cameras from August 1, 2011, after drivers Hiren Mohini and Abdulrahman Ikhtiari were stabbed to death in Auckland in 2010 and Christchurch in 2008. Mr Yako said cameras would not have saved his life if he had suffered a wound to a vital organ.

"We need to keep the passengers away from contact with the driver ... there is no point in having cameras, as cameras will not help the driver survive." He said working in Wellington at night is risky. "There is no way I will go back to driving my cab at night. I will drive during the day." He suspected the man may have been on drugs, as he did not smell of alcohol.

"There was no conversation. He instructed me to go to Shropshire Ave. He did not ask for money. He said nothing. I thought he could be a runner."

Kiwi Cabs general manager Ninos Zaya said he would no longer be sending drivers to the Bay Rd cab rank. The clientele of Bay Rd's bars made it a dangerous area for drivers – though he did not believe the man who stabbed Mr Yako came from a bar.

Mr Zaya said cameras in taxis would not help drivers.

He called for cameras to be installed at taxi stands so that passengers who did not have pickup or drop-off addresses could still be traced.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce decided against introducing compulsory protective screens because of widespread industry objection about the negative impact of screens on normal communication between drivers and passengers.

Mr Joyce said there was nothing to stop individual taxi drivers from introducing protective screens themselves.

Taxi Federation executive director Tim Reddish said there needed to be whole-hearted buy-in from the industry before compulsory screens could be introduced.

"I don't think it's going to happen ... A lot of drivers believe screens are intrusive and interfere with taxi air conditioning systems. It won't happen unless it becomes so bad out there that there is no option. God help us if we ever get to that stage."

- The Dominion Post

21 March, 2011

Self-defence in the News - No. 12

Bullying victim: Why I fought back

Bullying victim: Why I fought back

5:30 AM Monday Mar 21, 2011

SYDNEY - An Australian schoolboy who has become an internet sensation after turning on a bully has told how he snapped after years of cruel taunts about his weight.

Casey Heynes, 16, says he has been bullied nearly every day at his school, Chifley College, St Marys, in western Sydney, but could take no more when Year 7 student Ritchard Gale tormented and attacked him last week.

"All I was doing was defending myself. I've never had so much support," he told Australia's A Current Affair TV show last night.

According to Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, Casey revealed he had been targeted by a new group of Year 7 boys, who had started picking on him and teasing him.

The Year 10 student said he found himself surrounded by the students when he went to get a school timetable before class.

As Ritchard backed him against the wall and started throwing punches, Casey said he felt scared and worried that others in the group would also start hitting him.

Eventually, he snapped, picking Ritchard up over his shoulder and throwing him to the ground.

The brawl was recorded on the mobile phone of another student, who later posted the footage online, where Casey has earned "hero" status.

Asked if he was a superhero, he laughed and said: "No, I wish I was."

Casey said his outburst was a "build-up" of more than three years of being attacked verbally and physically by other students.

"They used to slap me on the back of the head and said I was a fatty and to lose some weight.

"I've been duct-taped to a pole before as well. They target me because I don't retaliate.

"I've never reacted that way before but everything built up inside me for three years ... I just had enough. All I wanted is for it to stop."

Casey told A Current Affair he had been bullied almost every day at school and even contemplated suicide a year ago when the taunts became too much.

"I started putting myself down and all the crap just kept piling on," he said. "That's when I contemplated suicide."

The video of his fightback, which the Sunday Telegraph said was taken off YouTube on Tuesday, has gone viral worldwide, spawning dozens of websites and Facebook pages congratulating Casey for fighting back.

Casey said he had been overwhelmed by the number of people who backed him after last week's footage went viral.

"I've never had so much support before," he said. "Nobody touches me and teases me any more."

Both Casey and Ritchard were suspended by the school after the incident, as was the student who filmed it on the cellphone.