City teacher injured in Syria

2013-04-29 00:00

A MISSION to help in war-torn Syria ended badly for a popular Pietermaritzburg teacher who suffered several broken bones in a car accident.

Mohamed Sadek Saeed, a teacher at Nizamia Islamic School, was among four South Africans injured while on their way to Azaz, close to the Turkish border. Saeed’s name is familiar to Witness readers as a regular contributor to The Witness letters pages.

Mustafa Wilson, of Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town, was killed in the crash.

There were 18 people in the delegation. Details of a second person from Pietermaritzburg were not immediately available.

The team left Cape Town last Tuesday to take aid to Syria under the auspices of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), co-operating with the IHH, the largest Turkish humanitarian organisation working in the region.

A close friend of Saeed, who asked not to be named, said the delegation was delivering goods like water purifiers, infant formula and women’s products when the accident happened.

“They were travelling from the Turkish border … in Syria. They were driving in 4x4 in a convoy, and … as the rebels were close and there is bombing … I believe they were travelling at high speed.

“The roads there are quite bad and full of potholes. The car hit a ditch and I believe it went over. One person was killed and Saeed, although he is stable, was injured. He suffered numerous broken bones and he was having trouble breathing.”

The friend said three other people were admitted to hospital in Turkey. Two were discharged and the other was moved from ICU to a regular ward.

Sabera Badat, a close relative of Saeed, told The Witness they were praying for his speedy recovery and return home. “He was in theatre on Saturday. He has a broken leg, his arm is broken in multiple places and [he has] some internal bleeding.”

Badat said the crash was unrelated to the civil war.

“It was actually a car accident … We understand that they had just gotten to Syria on Thursday or Friday last week when they met with the accident.”

She described Saeed as a man involved in community affairs.

“He is very active in community issues. They had gone to see what kind of aid they could assist with. We are praying that he recovers and he returns safely.”

Saeed’s family was scheduled to travel to Istanbul today or tomorrow to see him. It is expected that he will be moved there from another Turkish hospital as soon as he is stable.

Nabeweya Malick, an MJC spokesperson, said the area where the accident happened was not near any fighting.

“The area is very safe … and that is why they were there.

“They were scheduled to be there for 10 days. The rest of the group will continue with the humanitarian mission.”

She said the son of the family of Haji Mustafa Wilson had gone to Turkey to bring the body back.

The MJC said in a statement that the driver of the vehicle had lost control and crashed into a ditch.

Clayson Monyela, of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, said they had offered the delegation consular assistance. “The body of the man who died is now in Turkey and will be repatriated to South Africa today, where I understand the burial will take place.”

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