PMB suburb living in fear

2008-08-22 00:00

RESIDENTS of Raisethorpe in Pietermaritzburg fear their suburb has turned into a crime hot-spot following the murder of a well-known businessman.

Irshaad Basheer (37) was attacked and shot inside one of his shops in the area on Wednesday night.

Basheer, who owned Chow Down Restaurant and Sweets Galore Supermarket, died at Grey’s Hospital at 7.45 am yesterday. He was shot by robbers in full view of his four employees and a customer.

Basheer’s businesses are at the Village Mall at the corner of Chota Motala (Old Greytown) and Khan roads.

On Wednesday evening at about 6.30 pm, two men entered his supermarket. One moved to the back of the shop while the other drew a gun, pointed it at Basheer, who was at the cash register, and demanded money.

The other robber also produced a firearm and stood guard.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said the first gunman kept threatening to kill Basheer and then fired two shots, seriously wounding him in the chest and hand.

After the shooting, both men fled with an undisclosed sum of money, only to return a few minutes later to demand more cash.

It is unclear whether they did get any more money. Police said they then ran off. Police launched an immediate search of the area, but could not find the robbers.

A bleeding Basheer was taken to the nearby Day Med Hospital. He was transferred to St Anne’s Hospital before being taken to Greys when St Anne’s demanded a deposit of R100 000.

“We didn’t have that kind of money and we were forced to move him to another hospital,” said Basheer’s uncle Ayooh Meeran.

He said he heard about the incident at about 6.45 pm and rushed to the scene. “But I found him already taken to Day Med Hospital.”

Meeran described Basheer as one of his favourite nephews.

Basheer’s murder was on everyone’s lips when The Witness visited Raisethorpe yesterday.

Local business owners expressed shock and fear that criminals seem to have the upper hand in the area.

“We have a security company that is supposed to be patrolling the area, but it only installed panic buttons.

“It does not respond quickly when the panic buttons are pressed. Yet we are paying every month,” said a man in Medina Café and Takeaway, who asked to remain anonymous.

The man said he did not hear the gunshots.

“We only noticed that something was wrong when we saw his employees from his other shop running past our shop and we followed them. Even his next-door neighbour said he did not hear the shooting,” said the Medina Café man.

Minitha Singh, whose bottle store is next to the restaurant, said she will miss Basheer for his kindness and warm heart.

At 8 pm last Thursday, “I was closing my business unaware that a stranger was standing behind me. Basheer saw him and came by to make sure that I close my business safely without being harmed. He helped lots of people here in many ways,” she said yesterday.

She has also been robbed three times in the past two years. During one of these incidents, Singh had the barrel of a gun held to her head.

Businessman Anwar Isackally, the owner of Save-O-Matic in Chota Motala Road, has fallen prey to robbers three times. The latest incident took place in January.

“We need police to patrol the area and CCTV cameras installed here, like in town,” said Isackally.

Basheer, who had been in business for more than five years, is survived by his wife Zahira, 10-month-old son Tofeeq and daughter Suhaida (8). He was buried yesterday.

The suspects were still at large yesterday. Police are appealing for anyone with information that might help them to contact Inspector Mbongeni Madlala at 033 387 9614 or 083 596 6356, or Captain Piepes Haffajee on 033 387 9630 or 083 231 6496.

Commenting on Basheer’s murder, Business Fighting Crime chairman Dem Kambouris warned yesterday that trends show business robberies are on the increase.

He said this could be attributed to the “economic squeeze” and the lack of adequate preventative measures by the public to avoid becoming victims of crime.

“We say to business, take precautions. Don’t take cash home and don’t leave it in the shop. Criminals are buying information from staff and others, and have other ways to find out who does what where and how.”

Kambouris said business people and the public must deal with crime in practical ways. He warned against employing “cheap” security guards who may sell information about businesses.

“Having an unmonitored CCTV system is worthless. Criminals will know it’s not being monitored.

“The murder of Basheer is a shocking and terrible thing. The deed is done and now his family have to suffer the consequences of crime,” Kambouris said.

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