The father of a Chatsworth teenager who dreams of one day being able to walk again, has vowed to make sure the robbers who shot and paralysed his son are brought to book.
Seven months after the Durban Regional Court acquitted the three men who had stood trial for attempted murder and armed robbery, Idris Ally is still on a quest for justice. He is now considering taking the verdict on appeal.
Ally claimed that, days after their acquittal on September 28 last year, two of the accused had walked past his driveway, where his son, Altaf had been standing when he was hit in the head by a stray bullet. A third accused had died of natural causes while in custody.
On January 14, 2010, Altaf, now 14, had been with his father and brother, who was putting the refuse out for collection, when Altaf was hit. He was paralysed from the waist down, and has only partial movement in his left arm.
The court had heard that Altaf was shot by a gang of robbers who were fleeing after they had failed to hijack a police officer, Ashraf Mohamed, in Moorton, Chatsworth.
Mohamed had been standing outside his friend Shaun Naidoo’s house when he was allegedly robbed of R10 000 in cash. Shots were fired at Naidoo and his family.
A stray bullet entered Altaf’s right temple and exited through the mid-section of his head, destroying his nervous system and part of his skull.
In his judgment the magistrate, Siphiwe Hlophe, said he did not dispute that the boy had been shot or that a robbery had taken place, but he was not satisfied that the State had proved the identity of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thabiso Hadebe, 18, Malusi Zulu, 23, and 19-year-old Nunu Mkhize, who had died in custody, were all acquitted.
Ally said he approached the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), but was told it was too late, as judgment had already been passed. He said he was still looking into taking the matter on appeal.
His wife, Fazila Ally said of her son yesterday: “He keeps asking his father, ‘Daddy, when am I going to walk?’.”
She said her family was only now beginning to feel the strain of the shooting.
“It’s been very difficult for us. I feel so ashamed to ask for help,” said Fazila, as her older son, Azmuth, wheeled Altaf into the house. “We’re going through a tough time.”
Azmuth, 20, helps his father run the family business and takes care of Altaf.
Twice a day – morning and night – Ally heaves Altaf up and down 16 steps to and from his bedroom. The family was considering a motorised wheelchair for the staircase, but could not afford it, Ally said.
“Our life has been turned upside down,” Fazila said.
Despite being shot, undergoing several medical procedures, lying on a hospital bed for six months and adjusting to life in a wheelchair, the soft-spoken Altaf smiled, with a hint of shyness.
The former Crossmoor Secondary School pupil had adjusted well to his new school, Open Air School in Glenwood, an institution for the physically challenged, but had been unable to attend the past two weeks due to severe back pain.
He is optimistic about being able to walk again. “My nerves need to connect and heal, then I’ll be able to walk again.”
Whiling away his days, Altaf has turned to PlayStation. His favourite is the racing game, Need for Speed.
Altaf still has to undergo reconstructive surgery to his skull. “We’re just leaving everything in God’s hands,” his mother said.