Court told of home attack

2016-04-26 11:48

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Pietermaritzburg - “It's a face I will never forget,” a woman said on Tuesday when she identified an assailant who had allegedly poured half a kettle of boiling water over her and a young boy.

Sumaiya Vally told Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Nkosinathi Chili yesterday that she was visiting her friends, the Lakhis, in Albert Falls on February 26, 2012 when a robber gang struck.

She said the man who burned her and Ahmed Lakhi junior as she tried to shield him with her arms was Mvusi Dlamini (30) of Umlazi.

Dlamini, Lucky Mbonambi (28), also from Umlazi, and Siyabonga Mchunu (52) of Albert Falls pleaded not guilty to a total of 10 charges arising from the incident including theft of a motor vehicle, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

Vally said the attackers took a diamond ring and a cellphone from her during a 40-minute ordeal in which she and other members of her family and the Lakhi family were tortured and beaten.

She was in the kitchen giving Ahmed Lakhi junior a drink when she heard her father, Dawood Vally, call out in Zulu. She saw four men — two with rifles and two with silver handguns — enter the house.

“I took Ahmed and started pushing him towards the back door. In the moment of thinking what to do with the child, I turned and saw a person … with a gun in his hand.”

Vally said the man ordered her to pass him the child, but she refused. “He pulled the scarf off my head. He dragged me by my hair to the sitting area. I had the child by the hand. He then said to me: ‘You know why we are here and you know what we want. If you want to be a good momma and protect your baby tell us everything’.”

Vally said the man went to the kitchen, filled the kettle with water and switched it on to boil. “He said if you don’t give us what we want then you will burn and your baby will burn.”

She did not believe at the time that he would pour the water over them. However, when he came over he “spilled half the contents” of the kettle over her and the child who was sitting on her, she said. She “instinctively” wrapped her arms around Ahmed, who was not fully clothed, to shield him.

“The water fell on my hands and on the child as well,” she said. The water caused blisters.

Vally said the man went upstairs where other members of the Lakhi family were, but an armed man stayed to guard them.

“I was praying out loud to calm the child … I was told repeatedly to shut up. What was I doing?” she said.

“I replied that I am praying because only God will help me.”

Vally said the man with the kettle returned and began boiling water a second time. “He said it looks like the kettle is not working. Now I will have to put the iron on,” she said.

The robbers continued to “harass” members of the family. They beat her father and also hit and poured boiling water over her mother, she said.

Ahmed Lakhi senior and Firoza Lakhi were brought downstairs and both were bleeding from injuries. The sight of them had caused their grandson to become agitated.

“The person who burnt us told one of the men to take a rifle and shoot us all because we are a bunch of liars,” she said.

Vally said while looking for money and valuables in the house, the men continued to kick and hit their victims.

After a while they were ordered to go outside to the driveway. She was slowed down by the clinging child, and a robber tried to kick her but slipped in the water and fell, she said.

Vally described how she and the others were made to kneel down on the gravel driveway as if they were going to be executed. They were then forced to crawl on their knees to a truck and “pushed in like sheep”. The doors closed and they were locked in the darkness. “It became difficult for us to breathe,” she added.

Vally said they heard the robbers drive away.

Thereafter Ebrahim Lakhi had managed to “bust open” the door of the truck using a garden fork and freed them.

The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  attack  |  court

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