Durban - COMMUNITY activist Yousuf Ahmed Deedat, 65, was still in a critical condition last night after being shot in the head in a suspected hit outside the Verulam Family Court on Wednesday.
Deedat, according to the family, was being treated at St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
The director of private security company Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa), Prem Balram, said a man walked up to Deedat, shot him, and fled to a vehicle parked along Groom Street.
“On arrival, the victim was found lying face down on the pavement,” said Balram.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said Deedat was walking with his wife when he was shot. Mbele said the motive for the shooting was not known. The suspect was still on the run.
The chairperson of the Imam Hussein mosque in Verulam, Azad Seedat, described Deedat, who he’s known for 30 years, as a wonderful person.
“He got along with everybody. He visited our mosque and supported us during our time of need. We are shocked at what transpired,” Seedat said.
A former neighbour of Deedat’s, Sharmaine Sewshanker, said he was a well-known community activist who was always willing to help.
“He never turned anybody away that pitched up at his door for assistance. He always went the extra mile,” she said.
Deedat’s son, Raees, said while his dad was in a critical condition, the family was hopeful of his recovery.
“The next 48 hours are vital for his as he receives the best medical care available. Please join the family in praying for him. We thank the public for their good wishes and request that the family’s privacy is respected during this traumatic period,” he said.
It was not known yesterday what Deedat was doing at court, but he was no stranger to controversy and courts.
In August 2016, he sued a Verulam magistrate after his eight cats disappeared from his home in Trevenen Road.
The Post newspaper reported that the magistrate secured a final restraining order against Deedat after Deedat was charged for pointing a gun at and harassing a Verulam woman.
According to the Post, Deedat claimed a man known to the woman was behind the “orchestrated” charges because he (Deedat) had declined to sell his parents’ property to him. Deedat said in papers filed in the Durban Magistrate’s Court that the Lotusville property was regarded as a Muslim heritage site.
His late father, Ahmed Deedat, a Muslim missionary, died in August 2005, aged 87. Both father and son were fiery speakers who courted controversy. Deedat sr was known for his inflammatory books and videos on Hinduism and Christianity, and set up the Islamic Propagation Centre International in DrYusuf Dadoo (Grey) Street.
In September 2016, the Post newspaper reported that Deedat issued a letter of demand for compensation of R200 000 against a Greenwood Park police captain for allegedly having him detained for more than 25 hours with nine other suspects in a small cell.
“I am 62 years old and struggled to breathe in the cell. I was treated like a criminal,” he told the Post.
Deedat was also arrested for allegedly issuing Isis-related pamphlets at a Durban North school. He said the case against him fell flat after a magistrate informed the prosecutor that it was on “shaky ground”. He claims he suffered loss of reputation, harm to his dignity and self-respect, and that he and his family were put in danger:
Grey Street Mosque chairperson AVMohamed, who was in Pakistan when he received news of the attack on Deedat, said whoever ordered the alleged hit must be brought to book.