Community left to cope
By Rhonda Dredge
The east end community of the CBD has been forced to cope with the tragic aftermath of two murders since last November, with many blaming the increase in anger on the streets and the press for fuelling it.
One worker at the Heyday Hong Kong cafe spoke to CBD News about the response to the murder in Celestial Ave in April.
The window to the cafe overlooks the murder site and he denies claims in The Guardian that there have been no floral tributes.
He said that people had been visiting and bringing flowers to the site where Natalina Angok’s body was found on April 24.
“The council left the flowers for two weeks,” he said. “It was beautiful at night, the candles.”
Celestial Ave is in a busy part of Chinatown. The Supper Inn, one of the city’s oldest Chinese restaurants, sits opposite the place where Natalina drew her last breath. The Easy Link Property agency is on the corner.
When Lillian Cheng came to work on the morning of the murder the street was blocked off.
“We didn’t know,” she said. “We came to the office at 10 and had to take a day off. All the businesses were out for that day.”
Five days after the murder she was still feeling shaken. “You can see the people jostling more than in the past,” she said. “I’ve been working here for five years. People chase, people are asking for money or to stay here. We called the police and ambulance once. We locked the door.”
She said the Bourke St murder was not far away. “It’s really close to us. As a real estate agent every day for us is dangerous. Sometimes I work in summer until nine.”
The two murders are not connected but there is always a mystery surrounding a case until the accused appears in court.
Christopher Bell has been charged with murder of Natalina Angok but no details have been released about the cause of her death, which has caused speculation and claims that because the victim is of African descent her case has not attracted attention.
Mr Bell has appeared twice in the Magistrates’ Court. Magistrate Duncan Reynolds said the charge had been “redacted by reference to regrets” and the CCTV footage could not be released. He scheduled a committal hearing for August 30.
Until that time, the community has to work through the issues itself.
Nino Pangrazio, whose business partner Sisto Malaspina was stabbed to death in Bourke St five months ago, is critical of a story that appeared in the Herald Sun suggesting he was selling Pellegrinis.
“It was completely inaccurate,” he said. “The reporter overheard a private conversation.”
Mr Pangrazio said there had been other inappropriate comments since the murder attracted such attention but “on the whole people have been very sorry. We’ve had over 1000 cards and letters from all over the world.”
He confirmed that the cafe had put in security cameras but denied this was as a result of fear.
“We have the best security because the police come in. We had Bill Shorten in today and Daniel Andrews in yesterday,” Mr Pangrazio said.
Tony who sits out the front of The Paperback each day while he does the crossword disagrees. He says there are legitimate grounds for fear.
“Because I sit here all the time I see everything,” he said. “People become nasty and angry. Once upon a time I could leave my hat with money. Not anymore.”