Crooks exploit tragedy

2014-06-09 00:00

WHILE some have rallied to help a Durban family who narrowly escaped after their home was gutted, conscienceless individuals have begun preying on them.

Mohammed Suleman and his family, his wife, Shaista, and their two children, Aalisha (6) and Moienodheen (7), survived an inferno at their home in Kharwastan, Chatsworth, last week by escaping through a broken window.

The fire had claimed the lives of tenants Mukraam Warsi, his wife, Zainub, their three children, Tyieaba (8), Syhieba (4) and Rehaan (17 months). Zainub’s mother, Zarina Ebrahim (55), and a domestic worker, Maria Mdletshe, also died in the flames.

Suleman and his family had since been moved to the Aryan Benevolent Home (ABH) in Chatsworth.

ABH is a registered welfare organisation that helps the needy and indigent — including those who are physically or mentally disabled — regardless of age, race or religion.

Help has been pouring in for the family with donations of clothes, school clothes and fees for the children.

The Department of Home Affairs is assisting the family with new identity documents.

“We have since received information that there are people out there who are using this tragedy for selfish reasons. I know of about five people who have started collecting donations on our behalf. We don’t need 100 blankets. ABH is taking good care of us and we have a roof over our heads. We have clothing and my children are taken care of, so people out there must be careful of these criminals,” said Suleman.

The house that burnt down belonged to his grandfather who had left a will stating that he was welcome to stay in it. “It was part of his estate, and he had said my children and great grandchildren were welcome to stay in that house,” said Suleman.

He said among the items lost in the fire was his wife’s jewellery that costs about R20 000. It comprised of a wrist watch, bangles and a set of gold rings.

Ebrahim’s niece, Fazila Hoosen, said the funeral was on Saturday in Chatsworth. The family got together and the community assisted with the arrangements.

ABH CEO Rajesh Lutchman said the community has offered support for the Suleman family. “Currently, we are concentrating on providing them with basic needs. This morning, they received counselling and we will keep them here at the home until they have an idea of where they will be staying once they leave here,” said Lutchman.

Maggie Govender, chairperson of the Special Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, said government departments were helping.

“We have ensured that they get their identity documents and the children are already in the process of receiving their birth certificates. We are in the process of identifying the family of the domestic worker. Actually, her sister has made contact, so the office of the premier will be in touch with her and help will be provided with regards to funeral arrangements if the need arises,” said Govender.

Speculation is that the fire started after a gas cylinder exploded, but provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said it was too early to establish the cause of the fire. He said an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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