Fam­ily burnt in home buried

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - KARINDA JAGMOHAN

A WEEK ago, the Man­jra fam­ily opened the doors to their new home in Wil­low­ton, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. Early on Thurs­day morn­ing they died in a fire, be­lieved to be an al­leged ar­son at­tack.

While sources close to the ar­son and mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­lieve the dou­ble-storey Larch Road home was petrol-bombed, po­lice have not of­fi­cially con­firmed this.

In­dian na­tional Aziz Man­jra and his South African wife Gori Bibi, both 45 years old, two of their chil­dren Mehranisa, 15, Rizwan, 10, and an el­derly woman, Zubaina (sur­name un­known) are be­lieved to have suc­cumbed to burns and smoke in­hala­tion.

When the Sun­day Tri­bune vis­ited the scene yes­ter­day, the house was aban­doned. A win­dow, through which ar­son­ists al­legedly threw the petrol bomb, was shat­tered. Through it, the burnt rem­nants of a liv­ing room could be seen. The stench of smoke and charred wood filled the air.

Po­lice spokesman Lieu­tenant Colonel Thu­lani Zwane said the mo­tive of the at­tack was un­known. He said there were no “im­me­di­ate signs” of a rob­bery.

A neigh­bour, who de­clined to be named, said: “They had just moved here so we hardly knew them.”

She said she was awo­ken by a loud bang. I then heard some­one shout ‘Al­lah’. The next thing I knew, fire­fight­ers were bring­ing their bod­ies out.”

The Man­jras were buried with their chil­dren at the Moun­tain Rise Mus­lim Ceme­tery on Fri­day evening. The body of Zubaina was col­lected by her fam­ily in Johannesburg, said Gori Bibi’s elder sis­ter, Amina Es­sop.

Es­sop noted that Zubaina’s story was a sym­bol of the Man­jras’ “hearts of gold”.

In 2016, Zubaina be­came home­less after be­ing ne­glected by her fam­ily. Gori Bibi opened her home to the woman, who was said to be in her eight­ies.

Es­sop re­called that her sis­ter had been “over the moon” when the new house was bought last month as the fam­ily had been rent­ing a small sixth floor flat on Pi­eter­maritz Street for the past decade.

Ac­cord­ing to one of Man­jra’s col­leagues at Janoo Whole­salers, the cou­ple bought the house in the af­ter­math of re­ceiv­ing more than R1 mil­lion from the Road Ac­ci­dent Fund after a 2015 ac­ci­dent.

Rizwaan had been walk­ing across a busy Church Street in­ter­sec­tion when he was struck by a car. He suf­fered leg pain up to the time of his death.

Ashraf Janoo, Man­jra’s em­ployer, said the fa­ther of three worked dili­gently at his shop for 15 years as a sales­per­son and packer, while his wife and Zubaina worked at a nearby fash­ion store.

“He never had any gripes, he worked hard and went home to his fam­ily. At least we were able to bury them quickly ac­cord­ing to Is­lamic tra­di­tion,” Janoo said.

Man­jra’s sur­viv­ing fam­ily is his 19-year-old daugh­ter. Her name was with­held by the fam­ily to pro­tect her iden­tity as she mourns.

Es­sop said her brother-in-law had just com­pleted a small Niqqah (wed­ding) for his daugh­ter over the Easter week­end.

Man­jra’s fam­ily in In­dia has not yet been con­tacted as Es­sop knew lit­tle about his life.

The fam­ily and friends were set to gather this month to cel­e­brate their daugh­ter’s wed­ding and have a house­warm­ing party.

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