Crime inevitable says mayor

Angus & Coote in Dandenong Plaza on Tuesday 14 June after it was among the businesses attacked on Sunday night. Picture: JONTY RALPHSMITH. 285760.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Greater Dandenong mayor Jim Memeti is adamant that Greater Dandenong has not taken a step backwards despite recent crime activity.

The mayor’s brother-in-law owns Green Village Poultry which was among the businesses damaged by a hammer-wielding bandit, with Cr Memeti having worked there for about 20 years.

Julian Koonwhye, 31, of Dandenong was charged with causing $263,000 of criminal damage at Dandenong Plaza on the night of Sunday 12 June, and several businesses on Lonsdale and Langhorne Streets say they have observed increased criminal activity recently.

But the mayor believes Dandenong’s past reputation is causing people to jump to early, inaccurate conclusions

“It’s a one off incident that could have happened anywhere, he wasn’t there to try and rob the place, it was just an unfortunate situation.

“There’s been a lot of good things that have happened in Dandenong since the revitalisation of Central Dandenong. We’ve got a beautiful boulevard, many new buildings so we’ve transformed it to be a great city.

You get the good with the bad in a city where you have so many people come in and out to work every day and lots of services, you get the good and the bad.

“Most of these people who are homeless are residents of Greater Dandenong, they’re people who have come here because it is where the services are. If you have a look at them, they’re aren’t residents of Greater Dandenong.

“We’re still moving forward.”

The mayor expressed sadness on major TV news stations on Monday 13 June about his family business being smashed irritating senior realtor Neil Butler from Stockdale & Leggo.

“I would have said I don’t want to be interviewed, we’ll address it,” Mr Butler said.

“You put that on Channel Nine News, what are you doing for the area?

“I don’t think it achieves anything – my job is to sell property here in Dandenong, do you think it helps?

“People are going ‘I’m too scared to go there’ and then they show the guy going through the ‘plaza’.”