News State Victoria News Cousin of slain teen Solo Taufeulungaki says she ‘saw everything’

Cousin of slain teen Solo Taufeulungaki says she ‘saw everything’

Mourners leave flowers at the scene where Solomone Taufeulungaki was killed. Photo: AAP
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The devastated 14-year-old cousin of Solomone Taufeulungaki – who was stabbed to death in Melbourne’s west on Tuesday night – has described his murder, saying she “saw everything”.

Aki Faiva was walking with Solo when they were approached by a group of boys.

“He told [me] … ‘Run Aki. Run Aki’. I ran across the street to the church and then they got him and that’s when he got beat up,” the 14-year-old girl told Nine Network.

“I saw everything.

“I think it was something about – they were talking about something on social media.”

Aki said Solo was “a really good child”.

“He came to church every Sunday, he was very humble, loving, caring. He was really kind.

“He always protected me even when I didn’t want him to be there.”

teen melbourne stabbing
Solomone Taufeulungaki was stabbed to death outside a Melbourne shopping centre. Photo: Supplied

The teen’s fatal stabbing at Brimbank Shopping Centre in Deer Park on Tuesday afternoon has prompted intervention from youth resource officers, the gang squad and other police units.

A fight started at the scene several hours after Solo’s death.

Police have increased their patrols in the area to prevent further violence in retaliation for the killing of a “humble, loving” teenager.

Victoria Police Northwest Metro Commander Tim Hansen said the presence would likely remain “over the next couple of weeks until we get the sense the likelihood of retribution or reprisal is minimised”.

“These type of incidents do create fear in the eyes of the public and legitimately so, we recognise that,” Commander Hansen said.

“If these kids or these street gangs want to come back into other western suburbs of Melbourne and get involved in a fight, we will be there ready, waiting for them.”

Police have declared a designated area at the stabbing scene, giving them the power to stop and search for weapons.

“[Solo’s parents] are not seeking an eye for an eye toward justice,” Commander Hansen said.

“What they want everyone to do is to mourn the loss of their son and learn from them. They don’t want to see this happen again.”

On Thursday, family and friends gathered to sing at the scene where the teenager died.

About 15 people sang holding up a sign of a dove and olive branch that read “Fly high Solomone”, while 20 to 30 people looked on at the emotionally-charged gathering.

Solomone’s aunt Siualone Taufeulungaki said the songs were called Families are Forever and Child of God, which were about sending the message that Solomone and his family would be together again one day.

Ms Taufeulungaki said the community support had been a big help to the family.

“People have sent messages and their love and they are here today … we feel so sad but they help make it lighter,” Ms Taufeulungaki told AAP.

Floral tributes were laid while family and friends remained at the scene embracing each other.

Solomone’s mother and father said they do not want revenge for their son’s death, just “our son back home”.

Six boys, aged 13 to 16, faced a Children’s Court on Wednesday charged with violent disorder and affray in connection with the brawl after the teenager’s death.

Three were released on bail with strict conditions, including curfews.

The magistrate indicated more people might yet be charged over Solo’s death.

No one has been charged with directly causing his death.

Pasifika community leader Rita Seumanutafa told the ABC’s Pacific Beat on Thursday that more needed to be done to engage teenagers in school and family life.

“Our kids, right from the get-go, are trying to make life a bit better for themselves and feel like they belong,” Ms Seumanutafa said.

She said many parents were unaware of the huge effect of social media on how teenagers saw their world.

“Make sure you know where they are and [find out] if your child is engaging, and if they aren’t engaging with you or in a family setting there are services, there are groups, with a lot of influence in the community … you can find ways for them to engage,” she said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Taufeulungaki family pay for the funeral of their “caring, kind, selfless and humble soul”. It has raised more than $39,000.

-with AAP