Bangladeshi shot dead in CBD heist

2016-09-15 09:56
Police officer behind police tape at a crime scene.

Police officer behind police tape at a crime scene. (File)

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A man trying to stop armed robbers from getting away was shot dead in Pietermaritzburg after a brazen heist on Tuesday night.

Bangladeshi national Tazul Islam (33) was buried on Wednesday afternoon amid fears from other foreign national shop owners over their safety in the city centre.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said police are on the hunt for Islam’s killers, who ditched their getaway vehicle and escaped on foot after shooting Islam on Church Street.

The ordeal began at about 7.30 pm, just after crowds of worshippers had left the nearby mosque.

Shop owner Kawsar Mirza, also a Bangladeshi national, relived his experience of coming face to face with the barrel of a gun as two armed robbers entered his shop.

“Two young men came into the shop and asked me how much my airtime cost. They were like normal customers. They both walked out after I told them the prices, but they rushed back in seconds later,” Mirza said.

“They both had guns, 9 mm I think, and they pointed them at me while I was behind the counter. They demanded airtime and cash, and made me lie down on the floor.”

The men also took a cellphone before running off towards a getaway vehicle parked a few metres down the street.

“That is when I heard the gunshots,” Mirza said.

It is believed locals had noticed the frenzy inside the shop and had given chase after the two robbers.

Islam was walking towards the robbers when the shooting occurred.

It is believed he had tried to get in the way of the robbers, not realising they were armed. The men retaliated and allegedly opened fire.

The men abandoned their loot under their getaway vehicle — a Toyota Corolla which had no number plates — and took off on foot.

ER24 spokesperson Chitra Bodasing-Harduth said paramedics found Islam in a critical condition. His condition deteriorated while paramedics worked to save him.

Khonjelwayo said police have impounded the car and investigations are underway.

One of Islam’s relatives, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said he was married and had two young children.

“He had a good relationship with the local community. He also owned a shop on Pietermaritz Street,” the relative said.

Other foreign shop owners on Church Street said they believe criminals are targeting them specifically.

“There is at least one theft or robbery every day in the city centre. I think the criminals think we are easy targets. The police do not handle our cases seriously. Maybe they think we do not have rights,” one shop owner said.

Another shop owner also accused the police of inaction.

“We never hear back from investigators after reporting cases,” the man said.

Khonjelwayo denied that foreign shop owners are treated differently from other businessmen in the city.

She invited any businessmen unhappy with the police’s service to approach their station commander.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  foreign national killing

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