Port Elizabeth – A Port Elizabeth man who was a founding member from the Malabar Patrols community policing forum was shot dead in the city’s gang plagued Northern Areas early on Thursday morning.
“Captain” Naeem Desai from Jadeeds Bakery was delivering bread in Helenvale when he was gunned down and left for dead in his truck in Fitchard Street at around 6am.
According to community members, Desai was being targeted for a long time by alleged members from the “sestien honde” (sixteen dogs) gang.
According to eyewitnesses who visited the scene, Desai was shot through the back of his head, execution style.
Ambulance officials only arrived at the scene an hour after the incident took place.
Police spokesperson, Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg, confirmed that police were investigating a case of murder, however, she said the motive at this stage appeared to be robbery as Desai’s firearm and cellphone were taken at the time of the incident.
“It is alleged that Desai was busy with deliveries in the Helenvale area. While his two co-workers were inside a spaza shop delivering bread, they heard gunshots being fired. On rushing out of the shop, they noticed four suspects running away from the driver side of the truck,” said Janse Van Rensburg.
No arrests have been made.
The area of Helenvale is directly adjacent to Malabar. Desai on a daily basis travelled to Fitchard Street to conduct business in the area for his brother’s bakery.
Community members, meanwhile, expressed grief and shock on social media at losing a man they called the “Rambo of Port Elizabeth”.
Malabar Patrols is a crime prevention initiative which started in 2008 when community members noticed an alarming increase of crime in the suburb.
The community-based, non-profit initiative has grown in popularity. The group often notify community members of potential and current criminal activity in order to prevent crime from taking place on the streets of the area.
Currently the group has about 20 volunteer members who patrol the area day and night to prevent criminal activity.
Community members described Desai as a “brave warrior” who went out of his way to assist all.
Close friend and colleague, Asghar Parker, said that Desai delivered bread in Helenvale for the past 10 years because other drivers were just “too frightened” to go into the area for the fear of being robbed.
“I would ask him on a daily basis when are you going to stop this bread delivery and hang up your boots. He would reply that if he didn’t go and give these people bread and take the bread to the shops, who was going to? None of the other bread company trucks want to go into Helenvale because of the crime, because they get robbed. Naeem would go in.
“A person would come to his truck and say they have no money for bread, he would give them bread for free, it was a natural reaction for him to be so giving,” said Parker.
Parker said that Desai had no obligation to deliver bread in Helenvale but he chose to do so because no one else would.
“We called him ‘Captain’, he was like a pillar of strength, a catalyst for motivation in the Malabar Patrol group. Anyone could phone him in the middle of the night and he would go even alone. He did not care which race you belonged to he would help. His death is certainly going to leave a void.”
Desai passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning, and shortly after the lunchtime prayer, hundreds of men gathered for his Janaaza (funeral) at Masjid Abu Bakr Darul Uloom in Malabar.
Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan also attended the burial proceedings to pay his respects.
Jordaan was expected to meet with the Malabar Patrols at a closed meeting on Friday.
Meanwhile, social media exploded in fury on Thursday, with rumours flying around about plans being made to avenge Desai’s death.
Parker however refuted such claims. “All Naeem Desai’s close companions and family utterly refute the sentiments that was posted regarding avenging his death. These are matters for the law of our country and that Allah (God) has prescribed the time to leave this dhunya (earth). We take solace and have full Yakeen (faith) that he will be granted the highest stages of Janaah (Heaven),” said Parker.
Desai is survived by his wife Amina and young daughter Azrah.
African News Agency