Phoenix drug war claims elderly cyclist’s life
An alleged drug turf war being fought in Phoenix, that has been blamed for the accidental shooting death of a 71-year-old resident cycling to mosque, has led to an impassioned plea from a local religious leader: “Please put revenge attacks and animosities behind you.”
Father of four Abdul Kahlik, of Rainpath Place, was struck in the eye outside Daleview Secondary School on Tuesday last week. He was allegedly shot by teenagers who leaned out of the back windows of a SUV while firing. Their intended target, allegedly a young man walking down Daleview Road, was rattled by the incident but unharmed.
However, Kahlik, who ended up lying near the centre of the two-way road with his bicycle beside him, succumbed to his injuries en route to hospital.
Moulana Mohamed Tariq, president of the Phoenix Islamic Forum, said he felt troubled by the retired sign writer’s death.
“I spoke to some of the witnesses and the impression I got was that it was drug-related.”
Appealing for an end to the animosities, he said: “If you have gripes with anyone, mediate and get it resolved. We cannot have another incident like this, where an innocent bystander is caught in the crossfire of a drug war.”
Local councillor Bradley Singh, of the DA, said he too believed drugs were involved.
“We all know Phoenix is a drug haven and drug dealers are the only ones who behave like this, like thugs.
Singh criticised the police, who, he alleged, were failing to arrest the kingpins.
“The sad reality is that the police say they make arrests and show us the statistics. But the stats are of the runners and pedlars. They are not arresting the kingpins, who remain untouched.
“We are supposed to have a crime intelligence unit, but they lack intelligence to make these arrests. They are not intercepting those at the top of the drug trade. Why?”
Singh suggested new police personnel, from areas around the city, be deployed at Phoenix SAPS to fight the drug scourge.
“The current police are well known. Many of them have been living in the area for years and it is human nature to become friends (with those involved in drug activities). The cosy relationship must stop.”
Minority Front councillor Jonathan Annipen, who is chairman of the party’s youth association and a member of its national executive committee, said drugs have had tremendous effects in the area.
“The recent turf wars between drug dealers has seen the loss of innocent lives.
“Drive-by shootings, assault cases and brutal beatings have become almost daily occurrences and the stark reality, it seems, is that young people are at the epicentre of these horrific activities.
“Granted, young people are prone to experimenting, but the rate at which youth are becoming addicted to narcotics and participating in other criminal actions is most alarming.
“Perhaps joblessness and poverty play a critical role and drugs sales can be viewed as a way of making quick cash, but these aren’t excuses.
“This pandemic is eating away at the moral fibre of our society and it is killing more young lives than the black plague.”
Annipen said policing played a significant role in combating the issue, but “too many of our police are corrupt and succumb to bribes, or maybe they even fear for their lives and those of their loved ones”.
The chairman of the Phoenix Local Drug Action Committee, Mohamed Shah, described the problem as “massive”.
“Although we are working hard to make a difference, we are only scratching the surface of the drug problem.”
Shah said drugs were the “root cause” of many domestic violence incidents, fights and deaths in Phoenix.
The victim’s brother, Mahomed Yusuf, said even if the alleged culprits were teenagers, “you cannot take out guns and randomly start shooting.
“They knew what they were doing and had no respect for life. They must be taught a lesson. They must get life sentences regardless of their age”.
Kahlik’s son, Zainool ‘Zak’ Abdul, declined to comment on whether the shooting could have been drug related.
“I don’t know. All I do know is that we want closure. We want to know the perpetrators will be dealt with, with the full might of the law.
“We don’t want these youths to get bail. That is why we will be protesting outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court during their formal bail application.
“I think the community has had enough of these drive-bys and all these senseless killings.”
He told POST his father had a yellow Ford Ikon but preferred his bicycle, especially to go to mosque, which is about 2km from his home, as it was convenient.
“Everyone knew him as the uncle with the bicycle or the uncle with the yellow car,” he said.
“That day, he left home at around 4.35pm and was cycling on the pavement at Daleview Secondary School’s main entrance when he was shot.
“I was told two gunmen, who were in the back seat of the car, put their bodies out the windows and started firing.”
Abdul said a friend called him to alert him about the shooting.
“He said my dad was lying in the middle of the road bleeding to death. I asked him if he was sure and he said yes. At the time, I assumed he had been knocked.
“It took me a minute to get there and I could see his life was going. I asked him if he was okay but he did not respond. I tried to move him but was advised it was a crime scene and I could cause further injury.”
Abdul said another friend suggested they transport him to hospital as he had lost a lot of blood.
“We placed him in the back of my friend’s bakkie, while I followed in my car. My dad died on arrival.”
He said he spoke to the alleged intended victim, who allegedly told him there had been an attempt on his life a week earlier.
Moulana Saeed Cassim Ziaee, of Noor-ul-Islam, the mosque Kahlik was going to, described him as “dedicated, religious and harmless”.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said investigations were continuing and it could not yet be ascertained if the incident was drug related.
He said four people were arrested, one of them an 18-year-old woman.
But she was released as there was no evidence against her.
The other suspects, all aged 18 and from Phoenix, were charged with murder, attempted murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
On Thursday accused Sherizeed Lutchman was released on bail and will re-appear in court on December 15.
The other two accused - Terino Trevor King and Owen Jonathan Naidoo - are expected to apply for bail Thursday.
Zwane said suspects found in possession of drugs in Phoenix were arrested daily and police did constant patrols and operations to curb the problem.
KZN Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major-General Bheki Langa, commended crime prevention members for a job well done in arresting the suspects.