- A family acquaintance and religious leader in Weenen says the community was reeling after the murder of pregnant mom, Zakiyyah Ahmedjan Ismail.
- He said her husband, Ayoob, was so badly beaten that he could barely give police a statement.
- The community rallied that very evening to find the culprits, but no leads were forthcoming.
A close family acquaintance and religious leader in Weenen says the community has been left in shock following the brutal murder of four-month pregnant mother of two, Zakiyyah Ahmedjan Ismail, on their farm.
"It's been a great tragedy," Moulana Zakariyya Belcham told News24 at his home on Monday.
Belcham said the incident left a "deep scar" on the tight-knit, small town community in KZN.
"It is not something that is new to the community. I've learnt yesterday that such tragedies have happened prior, but only in the form of shooting. There has never been a case of someone slit by the throat."
Ismail was killed after three masked assailants gained entry to their home on Saturday, demanding valuables, the family and police said. In protecting their children, her husband was badly beaten, while Zakiyyah was murdered. The assailants fled and are still at large.
Belcham said when he saw 26-year-old Ismail's husband, Ayoob, shortly after the incident on Saturday, he was badly assaulted.
"He was in great pain when we saw him on Saturday evening because they beat him up quite badly. Our local doctor gave him a voltaren injection, he could hardly give his statement to police. When I met him, he just wanted to know how his children were. After the police took his statement, the first thing he asked for was to see the children."
Belcham said when paramedics tried to attend to him, his only concern was his wife.
"He told the paramedic, please go attend to my wife. I don't know if he was not convinced she passed away or whether he was not told. Because of the sensitivity of the situation, I did not want to repeat the question."
Belcham said that many neighbours had rallied around the family when he arrived on the evening of the incident.
"When I arrived, there were many others, including other farmers, and those on the neighbourhood watch group."
He said he could feel the tenseness, with neighbours armed in case the assailants returned.
"Obviously this was an attack on a family that did not pose any threat to anybody."
He added: "It is different when you attack someone who sees it coming, but you don't expect this to happen with people with such soft hearts, who have such soft-natured characters."
Belcham said the community wanted justice.
"Everyone standing there was armed and wanted to look for the people that did this. Unfortunately, there was no information about how they got to the farm, access to the house, how they escaped and where they went. There was no lead to follow. We were like sitting ducks there, hoping they would come back so we could catch them and what the purpose of them doing this is."
He said it was also concerning as the family had invested in security. The security on the night had given a statement to police.
They had yet to understand how the assailants managed to sneak onto the property.
He said that, in their Muslim customs, men and women did not interact, but that he had heard only good things about Ismail.
"She was a very modest person, who was always in her home. Her husband, on one occasion, since the lockdown began, said his wife never left the home, also taking [Covid-19] precautions."
Belcham said that, while Ismail was tragically killed, her modesty was still maintained, even in death.
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Belcham said she was known as a "very loving and supportive member of her family".
Impact on the community
He said that, as a religious leader, he tried to steer the grieving family toward their faith.
"The message I've given the family is that, as Muslims, we also believe we accept the decree of the Almighty. Whatever happens in our life is only through the grace of the Almighty, whether it is good or bad."
Belcham advised the family to support one another, particularly Ayoob.
"The husband, who is in great shock, needs their support. We advised them that they need to keep on reminding him that this is something that the Almighty has written everything out."