Bangladeshi shopkeepers hurt in fiery horror

Nadim Mahamud, a Bangladesh national residing in South Africa inside the container which is a Spaza shop in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni which was set alight and two of his countrymen were severely burnt. 250112 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Nadim Mahamud, a Bangladesh national residing in South Africa inside the container which is a Spaza shop in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni which was set alight and two of his countrymen were severely burnt. 250112 Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Published Jan 26, 2012

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Salim Shardar’s wish is to see the daughter he left at home, but first he will need to fight the incredible odds of surviving the burns that cover most his body.

On Wednesday, Shardar lay unconscious in the burns unit of Natalspruit Hospital, his face badly disfigured by the petrol that was thrown into his shop and ignited.

Close by in the intensive care unit, his relative and co-shopowner, Shapon Hossin, is on a ventilator. He suffered 95 percent burns.

The two are Bangladeshis, and their community on Wednesday called Tuesday’s incident in Thokoza a xenophobic attack.

The police are not sure of the motive, but between 8.30pm and 8.45pm, a group of men poured petrol through the burglar bars of the container shop.

Someone then lit a match, while Hossin and Shardar were asleep.

Nadim Mahamud, Shardar’s brother, was alerted to the attack and rushed to the scene.

There he found residents trying to put out the fire with water from a hosepipe. Several had broken down the wall of the toilet to help free the two.

“I went into the container and called for my brother, but he wasn’t there,” Mahamud said.

He found that his brother had been taken outside.

“He told me that he wanted to see his wife and child he had not (yet) seen,” said Mahamud.

Shardar had been in SA for only five months, and had owned the container shop for two months.

Shardar told his brother that after the petrol was thrown into their shop, they were unable to open the door.

“Those people (the attackers) prevented them from doing it,” Mahamud said.

The deputy chairman of the Migrant Community Board, Kamal Uddin Arab, said similar attacks on Bangladeshis across the country had prompted the board to hold an urgent meeting to see how traders in Thokoza can be protected.

On Wednesday, the IFP and SACP condemned the attack.

“Such behaviour cannot be tolerated and can only be attributed to lack of tolerance and respect for human life.

“These actions also expose the dismal failure of the capitalist system,” the SACP said.

By Wednesday night police had not yet made arrests. “The problem is that we can’t identify if it was a xenophobic attack. There were no other attacks that night,” said SAPS spokesman Captain Godfrey Maditsi. - The Star

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