The four young children of a Grahamstown businessman who died after an attempted robbery on the N2 near Peddie last weekend are still asking when their dad is coming home.
And it’s breaking Tariq Hayat’s heart. He still has to tell the children – all under 10 – that their dad is dead.
It was Tariq who rushed his brother Sikandar to Nompumelelo Hospital, less than half a kilometre from the scene of the attack around 7pm on Friday 24 January.
“If only I’d go there sooner,” Tariq told Grocott’s Mail on Thursday 30 January in a telephone interview.
The family owns the Diamond Cash and Carry in Peddie. Tariq said they’d been taking cash from the store for safekeeping elsewhere.
A family friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said as Tariq arrived he noticed the robbery in progress.
“The robbers shot at Tariq and he returned fire,” said the friend. “Some of the robbers were shot and one of them ended up in hospital.”
The friend said the robbers had shot Sikandar at least four times, the impact of the first shot breaking his arm.
Desperate to save his brother’s life, Tariq abandoned his pursuit of the fleeing robbers and rushed Sikandar to Peddie’s hospital.
Sikandar died on arrival.
Police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender confirmed that Sikandar died after armed robbers forced his vehicle off the road and shot him.
Peddie police, who are investigating the incident, said he had been carrying the week’s takings from several small businesses he owned in the town.
“The robbers didn’t succeed in taking the money, though, because then Sikandar’s brother arrived,” said Captain Ndungane of the Peddie Police.
Sikunder was buried in Malabar Cemetery in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 25 January. A Pakistani national, he was also a Muslim whose custom dictates that a person should be buried as soon after they died as possible. There is no Muslim cemetery in Grahamstown.
He leaves his wife and four children, who attend local schools.
A fellow trader, who asked to remain anonymous, said he felt the business community in Grahamstown was under siege.
“No fewer than 17 spazas, supermarkets and cafes have been robbed in recent months,” the trader said.
Sikandar Hayat, he said, had owned several small shops in Grahamstown and Peddie.
Saying that the law was failing the community in bringing criminals to justice, the trader said a very precious life had been lost.
“Not only to his family and friends, but to the Grahamstown community,” he said.
“Through more than 10 small businesses he owned, he provided employment for dozens of people.”
Violent crime keeps police busy
Police have reported several armed robbery incidents in the Grahamstown area in the past few weeks.
In a media statement on Saturday 25 January, Grahamstown police spokesperson Captain Mali Govender said a gunshot victim admitted to Settlers’ Hospital on Thursday 23 January was under heavy police guard there.
Police were investigating a case of attempted murder after the man, in his mid-20s, was admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds to an arm and a leg.
“During an intense investigation, it was established that the victim is indeed a suspect in several serious cases, the most recent being an armed robbery in New Brighton which took place on the evening of Wednesday the 22 January,” Govender said. “Five male suspects between the ages of 18 and 22 have been arrested the same evening on charges of armed robbery, attempted murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
And in another incident, according a statement released on Sunday, Govender said police had arrested three men 5km outside Grahamstown in the early hours of Saturday 25 January.
The arrest was made at 2.30am after members of the Vehicle Investigation Section (VIS) Hijacking task Team from Port Elizabeth received information of a possible attempt to help an injured suspect escape from Settlers’ Hospital.
“At approximately 2.30am this morning, a vehicle matching the description was sighted travelling from the direction of Port Elizabeth towards Grahamstown with three male occupants,” Govender said in the statement.
Members of the VIS Hijacking Task Team from Port Elizabeth, the Grahamstown K9 and members of the Highway Patrol stopped the vehicle approximately 5km from Grahamstown.
Three male suspects aged between 34 and 32 were arrested. Two pistols, a Norinco and a Beretta, two magazines and 23 rounds of ammunition were seized.
“The suspects were being sought for several serious cases including, armed robbery, hijacking and murder in the Eastern Cape,” Govender said.
Provincial Commissioner of the Eastern Cape, Lieutenant General Celiwe Binta, described the arrests as a breakthrough in combating serious and violent crime in the Eastern Cape.
“I commend the members of all the units for the integrated approach followed which resulted in such a positive outcome,” Binta said.