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Cape Town - On Friday, Ashim Nassoro will board a bus to Joburg with his three-year-old son and will not stop travelling by road until they reach Nassoro’s home town of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
“In Tanzania we were friends, but in Cape Town we were brothers. Their families are now my family, and I have to go to their mothers back home to explain to them why their sons died,” he said, referring to the three men who were murdered by a balaclava-clad gang carrying AK47s in Athlone last week.
“It is not going to be easy. I too am in mourning.”
The Tanzanian community have raised the money for the three dead bodies to be repatriated to Dar es Salaam - the bodies left Cape Town earlier this week.
On Thursday, Pagad leader Abdus Salaam Ebrahim was released from custody. The State withdrew the charges of triple murder against him and the Hawks have gone back to the drawing board in their investigation.
Nassoro owned the shop in Veld Road where Nassibu Saidi Istambul, 37, Ramadhan Mussa Bakari, 45, and Abdallah Ally, 37, were shot and killed last week. He and his wife agreed to meet the Cape Argus in Salt River, explaining later that they had not been able to return to their home in Athlone for safety reasons since the attack.
His wife asked not to be named, but Nassoro spoke freely.
“Like my brothers who died, I have done nothing wrong. Why should I hide my name?” Nassoro asked, acknowledging rumours that his countrymen were killed because of alleged links to drug dealing. Nassoro’s wife will remain in Cape Town and is in hiding at a family member’s home.
“ We drove past (our house), and our child said ‘no, we must not go there the police will shoot again’,” she said. “He does not understand that it was not the police who were shooting, but he does understand that something terrible happened.”
She added that she was desperate for counselling for her son because he could not sleep at night due to the trauma of hearing gunshots and seeing his “uncles” lying dead.
Nassoro expects to be back in Cape Town within two months. He wants to start over with a new shop in another area, but says he has no capital because of looters having cleaned him out shortly after the shooting.
“We need assistance, but I have a more important message to send out,” he said. “I want to say that if you decide to kill, make sure you know who you are killing. My brothers were accused of something they did not do. They died because the killers did not bother with the facts… ”