Durban, January 20, 2006
By Chris Jenkins
A man is being held in connection with the petrol
bombing of an Eshowe cellphone shop that claimed the
lives of its two young owners. The attack has outraged
the local business community who, fearing for their
lives, are considering protest action.
NRI Fiaz Motala, 22, and his wife Tahira, 21, died
at Eshowe Hospital within an hour of each other on
Monday night after sustaining serious burns according
to The Mercury report The two were trapped behind
the heavily barred counter of their tiny basement
shop in Theatre Lane in a busy market area just off
the town's main road on Monday morning. The shop exploded
in a ball of fire after a man entered and poured a
liquid, believed to be petrol, on the floor and set
it alight. Owners of neighbouring shops raced to assist
the couple, who were unable to get out from behind
Using hand-held extinguishers and buckets of water,
they managed to put out the blaze. Two shopkeepers,
covering themselves with blankets, risked their lives
and entered the shop while it was still in flames
and smashed the glass counter under the solid burglar
guards, and dragged the couple out on to the pavement.
"We could see Mr Motala was very badly burned,"
said Connie Mthembu, of C and J Eating House directly
across from the Motalas' shop, who helped put out
the fire. "His burn wounds were terrible,"
said Mohammed Moosaji of Trendsetters, above Siza
Cellphone Centre, who had rushed to help. Tony Subramoney,
of Rank Cafe, who trades right next to the Motalas,
said he had been in KwaDukuza at the time but his
staff had reported an explosion and flames coming
out of the shop. He had known the couple since they
set up shop. They had locked themselves behind bars
after being robbed a few months ago.
Police said a suspect, who might have been a dissatisfied
customer, was under police guard in hospital in connection
with the attack. They are investigating two counts
of murder and one of arson. Local trader Mehmood Deedat,
Chairman of the Eshowe Muslim Association, said people
were devastated by the deaths of the young couple,
and said yesterday that at least three shops had received
threats of torching from customers since Monday's
incident. Deedat said he would meet fellow shop owners
to consider closing for three days in protest over
the horrific incident.
"We need action, we need help and we need more
policing," said Deedat, who had moved from Johannesburg
to Eshowe in the belief that he would live a safer
life in the Zululand town.