10 May 2021

Dunedin Countdown stabbing: 'Unacceptable violence' on rise - Hannifin

From Checkpoint, 5:06 pm on 10 May 2021

Three people have been critically injured in a stabbing at Countdown supermarket in central Dunedin.

Another person has moderate injuries. Police say they were called to the Cumberland Street shop about 2:30pm Monday.

They have taken one person into custody.

"It looks like there was an incident, but we can't quite work out what it was... in the Health and Beauty area near the pharmacy," Countdown spokesperson Kiri Hannifin told Checkpoint

"I'm having trouble ... to talk to the managers in the store but I'm having trouble getting much out of them because ... they're in shock, but also trying to deal with injuries of those customers and teams. I'm in quite a bit of shock myself."

She said there had been maybe 13 or 14 months' worth of increasing violence towards supermarket staff, 600 percent increase during Covid-19 and about 300 percent since.

"Just the most horrendous verbal abuse, physical abuse. On Thursday night someone tried to burn down our store in Henderson, while our team were working in it. So it's just unacceptable violence.

"And now this is just incredibly distressing, for our customers to be injured in the process as well, that we can't seem to do enough to keep our people safe just takes my breath away. I've got no words really."

Hannifin said there is no clear pattern in the rising incidents of abuse at Countdown supermarkets.

"It happens mostly during the day, in some areas more than others. When we have guards it doesn't seem to make a difference. It's not particular to any sort of socio-economic demographic. It's not particular to alcohol or drugs or mental health, it's just all of the time.

"The verbal abuse, which is the one we see the most of – this is very aggressive homophobic or racial abuse – happens in nearly every single one of our stores, nearly every single day.

"Every day we have assaults in our store of some variety, so there seems to be no rhyme or reason, apart from a complete disregard, or lack of respect for our people."

Most of the supermarkets have security guards, she said.