Azhar Vadi | 7 November 2019 | Image: Stock
After 99 years of living in the quaint little town of Schweizer-Reneke, the well loved Kathrada family has been rocked by a second tragedy. The first took place way back in 1964 when the anti-apartheid struggle hero, Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia trial along with so many other heroes. The second incident that rattled the family occurred on Thursday 1 November 2018, when uncle Kathy’s nephew Yunus Kathrada (65) and his son, Moulana Ahmed Kathrada (28), were brutally murdered in a robbery that went wrong.
Speaking to Salaamedia, Rashid Ahmed Kathrada, the brother of the deceased Yunus Kathrada , described the family as being in a deep state of shock.
On the fateful evening Moulana Ahmed had completed his weekly visit to Muslim families in the town giving them spiritual encouragement in a religious observance known in the Urdu language as ghust. He then proceeded to the local mosque for the Esha or late evening prayer before planning to retire at home for the night.
“It was this Thursday evening when a gruesome act was carried out against two innocent people,” said uncle Rashid Ahmed.
Yunus was at home as he was not feeling very well, about 3km from the local mosque. When Moulanal Ahmed returned home, he entered his house and then went to open a steel security gate.” He was then accosted by the thugs and he attempted to prevent them from entering and harming his elderly parents in the house.
“This is what we gathered from the investigation,” said uncle Rashid. “Moulana Ahmed tried to ward of the assailants. He was shot first on the right upper part of his chest and also on the left temple. He survived for four hours. In the entire scuffle they tried to enter the home. My sister-in-law Feroza tried to block them off and then attempted to call my brother Yunus. As he came, he tried to make sure they don’t enter the home. There was a physical altercation that took place and Feroza pressed the alarm button that triggered the alarm at home. This then caused the assailants to run away. Yunus then followed them and chased them right to the end of the wall and they got on to the top of the wall to exit. Yunus turned around to go and assist Moulana Ahmed and that is when he was shot once in the back of the head. He passed away immediately on the scene.”
When uncle Rashid reached the house he found Yunus had passed on and Moulana Ahmed was rushed to the local hospital where he showed strong signs of survival in the first hour. The doctors thought they would keep him for 3 days and then discharge him. A second opinion however indicated that the injuries were much more serious. His condition deteriorated and soon thereafter he passed on as well.
“Moulana Ahmed resuscitated the Islamic activity in the Schweizer-Reneke community,” said uncle Rashid. “As he was taken to hospital his index or shahadah finger was continuously raised praising Allah and bearing testimony to His oneness. His words were, Oh Allah please forgive those who have harmed my father and have harmed me. We take comfort in that we have lost a scholar of great stature in our country. If he had survived he would have risen to be a scholar of great status.”
Police have arrested 9 people between the ages of 16 and 60. “On behalf of the Kathrada family we would like to extend our thanks to the SA Police Services who acted extremely professional. They have done a wonderful job.”
According to uncle Rashid, the first to be arrested was a young Muslim boy. “This particular young man was reared by our family from a very small age. This child used to affectionately call my brother Papa Jones and my dad Papa Chota. My family virtually nursed him when he came into our home from the age of 1 and Moulana Ahmed tried very hard to work on this boy.”
While police investigations are ongoing and the matter still needed to be taken before the courts, uncle Rashid believed that this youngster allegedly planned the entire robbery.
“As Muslims we ask why would someone do this to people who loved him and who he loved… He was the last person to see Moulana (Ahmed) after Esha. After he finished his Esha prayer he walked towards his car. Moulana then picked him (the young accused) up and then dropped him off. That was the last person that Moulana (Ahmed) was in contact with… He is in custody now and was the first person that was apprehended.”