'He did not hear them shout 'Run!'' – Mourners gather for funeral of Gift of the Givers volunteer

2018-10-08 16:07
On the right is the shop Amierodeen Noordien walked to. His house is at the intersection at the bottom (Jenni Evans, News24)

On the right is the shop Amierodeen Noordien walked to. His house is at the intersection at the bottom (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Gift of the Givers volunteer Amierodeen Noordien did not hear people shouting "Run!" when gangsters started pulling their guns out and shooting. The 19-year-old was killed in the crossfire.

"He was deaf in one ear," said Ali Sablay, the Gift of the Givers' project manager for the Western Cape.

"They shouted 'Run' but he did not hear them."

Amierodeen had worked for Gift of the Givers since January 2018 when the organisation began delivering water to drought-stricken areas of the Western Cape and then later when it delivered animal feed to struggling farmers.

"Amierodeen was a very kind, respectful person – always a smile on his face," he said.

Amierodeen had just returned from a trip to the Eastern Cape.

"And one hour and 50 minutes later he was dead. I was speechless," Sablay said.

The shooting took place outside a small shop metres away from Amierodeen's home at around 18:50. He died in his sister Shabiega's arms.

Parents' grief

His sister was pacing outside the house on Monday, wearing her brother's Gift of the Givers shirt.

Inside, his bereft mother Fatima sat surrounded by women and neighbours, while an armoured police truck made a turn every 20 minutes.

"'I'm coming now Mommy' is the last thing he said to me," she said softly.

"He just went to the shop to get some chips," she said as her grieving husband Moegamad held her hand tenderly, a cup of tea for her in his other hand.

Amierodeen Noordien
On the right is the shop Amierodeen Noordien walked to. His house is at the intersection at the bottom (Jenni Evans, News24)

Half an hour earlier Moegamad had collapsed as he was led into the house after visiting the mortuary to finalise arrangements for the funeral.

Sobbing uncontrollably, he was propped up by friends and relatives as he walked back into their home and sank into a chair put behind him quickly. His face in his hands, his shoulders shook as he wept, and somebody ran down the passage to fetch him sugar water.

"He was a very good chap. A happy boy," he said later. "He didn't bother anybody. Everybody loved him. He was respected."

He said the young man, who would have turned 20 on December 24, helped his gravely ill mother every day.

Volunteer work was a way out

"Before he left I said to him 'When are you going to cut your hair?' He said 'Tomorrow daddy'."

There was to be no tomorrow for the 19-year-old.

At these words his mother broke down. A fan was fetched and the room was cleared to give her space and privacy.

"It is the words. When she hears them it all comes back," said a relative with tears rolling down her cheeks.

The family's other son, Moegamad Shadiek, has also taken Amierodeen's death hard and was keeping to himself while preparations were being made to put up a tent in the street for mourners.

Sablay explained that the global disaster relief group had started recruiting young people from strife-torn communities specifically to help them find a way out of the unemployment, drugs and gangsterism they face daily.

Amierodeen began by assisting with deliveries of water during the Western Cape water crisis. His trip to the Eastern Cape was to deliver cattle feed to desperate farmers.

"Most of these young people only know this place," Sablay said, pointing to the narrow roads and blocks of flats.

Police minister expected

"When they got to the Eastern Cape they said they did not know that such peaceful places existed."

The volunteers also receive a small stipend, and, according to Amierodeen's mother, that has helped the family financially.

Bader Kazi, a communications officer for corporate and government relations for Gift of the Givers, said the programme offered residents an opportunity to do something different.

Amierodeen Noordien
Police patrolling ahead of funeral of Amierodeen Noordien in Hanover Park (Jenni Evans, News24)

"It is 10:00 but do you see everybody standing here? They have nowhere to go. There is such unemployment.

"The world of academia and the world beyond here feels like a foreign place. They cannot relate to it at all. With the volunteer work they got a chance to do something different."

Police Minister Bheki Cele conveyed his condolences to the family on Monday afternoon. He has already committed to a summit to discuss Western Cape residents' concerns about crime, drugs and gangsterism.

Amierodeen's funeral, which was scheduled to take place on Monday afternoon, was postponed to Tuesday afternoon due to a backlog at the mortuary where his body was being kept.

*This article has been updated to reflect that the funeral was postponed.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  cape town  |  crime

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