The uncle of a toddler found dead in a Melbourne creek after being taken from a pram pushed by her mother has warned people in the community to be vigilant.
Habib Ali also thanked the family that found 15-month-old Sanaya Sahib’s body in Darbin Creek, Heidelberg West, in the early hours of Sunday.
Speaking to the media he said: “I would like to tell the neighbours around this area to be very, very careful, especially with the kids – don’t go out in parks alone or at night or in the morning. Just be very, very careful.”
Mr Ali said he wanted whoever was responsible for his niece’s death to be caught as soon as possible.
“I appreciate what police are doing, they’re doing a very great job and I’m pretty sure they’ll come to a quick conclusion and justice will be served,” Mr Ali said.
“It’s very frustrating and whoever is out there, whoever has done it, I hope that he is caught as soon as possible and dealt with.”
Sanaya’s mother, Sofina Nikat, 22, said her daughter was snatched from the pram by a stranger as they were walking in Olympic Park about 10:00am on Saturday.
Ms Nikat said the man pushed her to the ground before taking the toddler and running off in south-westerly direction on the eastern side of Darebin Creek.
Mr Ali said Ms Nikat was with social workers and has been receiving counselling.
“She’s just disturbed and shocked, and she’s crying a lot and she just doesn’t know what’s going on, she’s in a hysterical state of mind,” he said.
“Her family is back in Fiji, they’re all praying and we’re all praying for whoever has done this to be caught and taken by the law and dealt with.”
Officers have since searched a home in Heidelberg West where Ms Nikat had been staying and she is understood to have been helping with their investigation.
Police have also ramped up patrols in the area around Olympic Park and have urged people to be alert.
Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane told Macquarie Radio: “We’ve certainly got more police out at Heidelberg and around the parks today and probably for the rest of this week just to reassure the community.”
Police said the attacker was described as being barefoot with dark skin and aged between 20 and 30.
He was wearing black pants and a black zipper top, and smelled heavily of alcohol.
Strangers have been leaving floral tributes for the family, including Northcote resident Vicky Gogas.
“I’m just a new mother I don’t live anywhere near the area I just felt that I needed to come,” she said.
“I just can’t stop thinking about it, I’m also a mother, I didn’t know where to go, I just wanted to leave some flowers for the little baby.”