The widow of slain Cape Town attorney Noorudien Hassan has described how her world was shattered when her greatest fear – that her husband would be murdered – became a reality this week.
“I hope he never felt any pain when it happened to him,” Mehraaj Hassan said.
Masked gunmen in a white bakkie shot Mr Hassan, an attorney who was well-known in criminal law circles, outside his Burwood Road house in Crawford on Monday evening, November 7.
Breaking her silence on Thursday, Ms Hassan spoke of the events that led up to her husband’s death.
It was late on Monday when her husband went to Crawford to turn on the lights and feed the fish. He, his wife and children didn’t live there.
They had moved to Lansdowne to one of the oldest houses in the area, where generations of the Hassan family have been living and operating a business since the 1940s.
Ms Hassan said it was part of her husband’s evening routine to switch on the lights in Crawford.
On Monday his childhood friend, a police reservist, had visited him and offered to drive him to Crawford.
“Noorudien still cracked a joke as he left,” she said.
Little did she know it would be the last time she would hear his voice.
Mr Hassan and his friend had taken longer than usual because they had become carried away with their conversation and she had decided to go to bed instead of waiting for them to return.
It was about 10pm when Mr Hassan and his friend locked up in Crawford and, as they got into the friend’s vehicle, a white bakkie pulled up.
Gunmen, with black-and-white checked scarves over their faces, had got out and opened fire, she said.
With Mr Hassan still alive in the car, the friend drove to the Lansdowne Police Station to report the incident before racing off to Kingsbury Hospital.
He contacted Mr Hassan’s brother to tell him what had happened.
Ms Hassan said she must have been asleep for between 30 and 60 minutes when her mother-in-law woke her to say that her husband had been shot.
“I panicked but I still hoped that he would survive,”she said.
She had hurried to the hospital but, about five minutes after she arrived, doctors had told her that her husband’s heart could not cope with the extent of his injuries and that he had died.
“I miss him a lot. I had a reason to smile. He was my pillar of strength. So I am so heartbroken,” she said.
The Hassan’s home in Lansdowne had been pipe-bombed in 2014.
Ms Hassan said she had always been aware that the nature of her husband’s work came with certain risks to his safety.
After the bombing, he had warned her to be vigilant wherever she went.
“We were fearful for a very long time,” she said. However, she had never thought she would have to go into the new year without her husband.
She described Mr Hassan as a playful and romantic husband, a doting father and a family man who was always dutiful to his parents and siblings.
The couple enjoyed date-night every Friday, while Saturdays were reserved for his family’s needs at the supermarket.
However, she also had to share him with many other people because he was known as a lawyer for the community and someone who offered advice to anyone who asked. “It was like a walk-in service here,” she said. Ms Hassan recalled how on Tuesday November 8, when he was laid to rest, mourners had found a woman sobbing at the graveyard.
The woman had explained that she was a caretaker at the cemetery in Constantia and that she was so distraught by Mr Hassan’s death because he had consistently delivered groceries to her each week.
The moment was so fitting for Ms Hassan because it was a representation of the man she had known and loved for the last decade.
“That is who Noorudien was,” she said. She, her sister-in-law Haseena Hassan and her husband’s cousin, Naseema Hassan, spoke about the many charitable causes he had become involved in.
He had helped to build a mosque in Philippi and provided orphans with basic needs, especially during Ramadaan.
When his sister told him about the number of children at Brooklyn Chest Hospital, he arranged a party for them to cheer them.
He had also held lavish carnival-type parties for his children which other children from the Lansdowne community were invited to attend.
Children of staff members at the family’s supermarket were also invited.
Ms Hassan said her husband’s death had left a gaping hole in the family home.
“Our children say it’s not the same without Daddy,” she said.
No one has been arrested in connection with the shooting. Police spokesperson Constable Noloyiso Rwexana said there were no further developments.- Weekend Argus