‘I heard a gunshot’

2017-05-26 14:10
Auto Paint shop owner's widow and son tell court of robbery ordeal.

Auto Paint shop owner's widow and son tell court of robbery ordeal. (File)

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Moments after Shaik Ahmed Ali (68) was shot in his store in Allandale, one of his assailants ran to his wife and pulled her gold and silver wedding ring off her finger, the high court heard on Thursday.

This was the only item that was stolen from Alison Auto Paint shop by a robber gang on the evening of January 19 this year.

Ali, who owned the store, suffered a head injury from being hit with the butt of a firearm and was shot in the chest during the incident.

He died in Grey’s Hospital on January 25, six days after the attack, his widow, Farzana, testified on Thursday.

She told the court she did not see her husband being shot because she was on the floor at the time.

“I could not see anything but could only hear noises … I heard noises like fighting and stuff. That’s when I heard the gunshot,” she said. “The guy then ran to me and pulled my ring off my finger.”

Ali said she only saw one gunman during the incident but realised there was another assailant present as well because she had heard the sound of their countertop being dropped.

This was the sound that had initially alerted her and her husband that something was amiss.

She told the court that they had been sitting in their office when they heard the “loud noise” and got up to see what was happening. As they did so a man jumped over the counter and held her husband at gunpoint.

“My husband grabbed the guy and pushed him onto the computer table. That’s when the guy hit him with the butt of the gun on his head. The guy then ran to me and pointed the gun at me and told me to get down on the floor,” she said.

She said her stepson, Ridhwan Ahmed, tried to save her and grabbed the man who attacked her. “The guy then hit Ridhwan and also told him to get down.”

Ridhwan Ahmed testified that he was sitting near the computer where they normally do colour formulations when he became aware of three “customers” entering the shop.

“They asked for cable ties. When I saw they were being attended to, I returned to the back of the store,” he said.

As he was walking back he heard a “loud noise”.

“I turned and I saw a guy struggling with my stepmother [Farzana Ali]. I went to her aid and I pulled the guy off her. As I pulled him off and stepped back somebody hit me on my forehead area. I let go and I kind of fell.

“When I looked up a guy was pointing a gun at me. I stayed down in a kneeling position,” he said.

He said the man who pointed the firearm at him went back to his stepmother and he saw the man pull off her ring. “At the same time one of the guys was struggling with my dad to the right of me … The guy who was struggling with him at some point pushed him down. As my father stood up, he shot him.”

The court heard that soon after the shooting the assailants ran out of the shop.

Ahmed said he had followed them to the door but did not see where they went.

He then went back to his father and administered basic first aid. “My father was on the floor. There was blood running down his face. Initially I thought that was his only injury and then I saw his shirt getting red as well. That’s when I realised he was shot in his chest,” he said.

Ali was taken to hospital by ambulance thereafter.

Currently on trial for Shaik Ali’s murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances is Mbongeni Emmanuel Mbambo (34).

Mbambo has pleaded not guilty to all charges and his advocate, Nicholas Dlamini, said although Mbambo admits he was present and witnessed the robbery, he did not take part in it.

He said Mbambo denies allegations that he conspired with others to commit the robbery in the course of which Ali was shot, or that he was armed with a weapon at any stage.

A key state witness who has testified in the case was an accomplice to the incident, Nqobani Dlamini.

Dlamini is one of three men already serving effective jail sentences of 30 years’ imprisonment. The others are Thabiso Ndlovu and Lindokuhle Ndlovu.

The investigating officer in the case, Captain Sizwe Makhathini, told the court that following the guilty pleas by Mbambo’s alleged accomplices, he consulted with them and initially all three said they were prepared to testify against him.

But since then Thabiso and Lindokuhle Ndlovu had “changed their mind” and only Dlamini was willing to testify in the trial.

Judge Pete Koen has asked state advocate, Mbongeni Mthembu to investigate the possibility of calling Thabiso and Lindokuhle Ndlovu as witnesses because he believes it may be necessary to hear their testimony in the interests of justice. He said the court might even consider invoking legislation which permits a court to call “recalcitrant” witnesses to give evidence if the court is persuaded that justice requires it.

The Judge has invited the state and defence to make submissions in this regard.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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