A man has been arrested following the death of a woman in West Auckland on Monday evening. Video / Hayden Woodward
A woman who died in an alleged attack in a West Auckland alley was top AUT law student Farzana (Zana) Yaqubi.
She has been remembered as a quiet, loving and diligent young woman.
The death of Yaqubi, 21, brought renewed fear and grief to the Afghan community in Auckland. Community leaders said it shattered their fragile sense of safety.
The man accused of murdering Yaqubi in Massey this week appeared at Waitakere District Court this afternoon wearing a long green sleeveless coat and no shoes.
The man, who was granted interim name suppression so that his parents in India could be notified of the murder charge, looked at the ground as Judge June Jelas remanded him in custody to await his next appearance on February 1 in the High Court at Auckland.
Defence lawyer Paul Borich, KC, did not enter a plea on the man’s behalf.
Three sisters and two brothers of Yaqubi filled the first row of the courtroom’s gallery during the brief appearance. Screams of agony echoed in the courtroom as the defendant was shuffled out by security.
”You ****ing bastard!” one of the women yelled through tears.
“How could you? How could you?”
“You coward!” another sibling yelled.
Other siblings surrounded the sister who, visibly upset, hugged her and eventually helped her out of the courtroom.
Standing outside the courtroom after the hearing, family friend Wahid Suliman described Yaqubi as a caring and “beautiful young lady” who had plans to become a criminal lawyer after just one more year of studying.
”The tragedy has broken everybody’s heart,” he said.
“She was the youngest [in the family] but she was the smartest.”
Yaqubi had been set to set to embark on a religious pilgrimage to Iraq next week with her family, but the trip was cancelled today as her parents and siblings mourn, the family friend said.
Yaqubi’s father was a refugee from the Afghan Hazara ethnic minority, who fled Taliban persecution in 2001 and ended up as one of the Tampa refugees.
A family member told the Herald Yaqubi was born in New Zealand shortly after her father’s arrival in the country.Farzana (Zana) Yaqubi's alleged killer was set to appear in the Waitakere District Court on Wednesday. Photo / Supplied
She grew up in Auckland and studied law at AUT, receiving a scholarship.
The close family member, who did not want to be identified, said Yaqubi received high marks and was a top student.
She already had a job offer, he said.
Yaqubi was an observant Shia and planned to shortly head to Karbala in Iraq for her pilgrimage.
The family member remembered Yaqubi as quiet, diligent and loved by children.
“My kids, they keep telling me they miss her and asking for her to come back,” he said.
Police launched a homicide investigation shortly after she was found dead near the Waitakere Badminton Centre about 5.45pm on Monday.A woman lays flowers near where Yaqubi died. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Members of the public say they saw a body on the road and heard a woman screaming.
Assadullah Nazari, president of the Hazara Afghan Association Incorporated, said his community in Auckland is rallying around the family. On Tuesday evening a stream of people from the Afghan community came to support and grieve with the large family.
Nazari said he had spoken to the family, and planned to head to the house with some elders to see what support they could provide.
The distress of the community was compounded by the grief and worry they still felt from the Christchurch mosque attacks and the fact they had no idea of the motivation for the young woman’s killing.
“We left our own country, the country that we were born in ... we left to go somewhere to be safe and live our lives in peace, and in the community,” he said.
“And then we come here and we get that shocking thing that happened with the Christchurch mosque attack.”
The worry had again intensified after the death of a Hazara in Auckland, he said.
“The community’s in shock. Everyone is worried, especially with the young ones that they have.”
Yaqubi’s alleged killer is a 30-year-old man listed as living at a property in the Auckland suburb of East Tamaki, court documents show.