The boy I went to school with

“You can’t learn in school, what the world is going to do next year”

When I was in High school I would sit and imagine what it was going to be like when we were all out of school and living our lives. I always believed that people I went to school with would make it. I have been patiently waiting to see a familiar face on the news or read a familiar name in the paper. This week it happened. I read a familiar name in the paper, but I never imagined that it would be for something like this.

Before I continue with this piece I must make few things clear.

  1. I am writing this piece in my personal capacity and not as a Wits Vuvuzela Journalist.
  2. I am naming the accused in this piece as he has appeared in Court. This is a little thing called the subjudice clause. It allows the media to publish the names of people involved in legal matters only AFTER the accused have appeared in court. In this instance, the accused appeared in court this morning.
  3. I went to school with the accused. We were never close; in fact we never got along. But the fact remains that I do know him , and this may very well affect my objectivity in this piece.


According to various media reports, Zaakir Pelwan and his brother were involved in a fight outside Tiger Tiger, in Four ways on Saturday night that left Zaakir’s brother dead.  The Pelwan brothers got into a fight with a man who went outside to look for his companion and found her in the parking lot speaking to the brothers. The man was stabbed and he went back into the club to call the bouncers for assistance. When he came back with the bouncers and security, it is alleged that Zaakir produced a firearm and started firing shots, when his brother tried to intervene he got shot. Zaakir allegedly also shot three security personnel, one in the abdomen, one in the ankle and one in the arm. Zaakir was allegedly seen picking up bullet casings and then he drove off, leaving the security personnel and his “mortally wounded brother” in the parking lot.

Refer to : “Brother shoots brother at club”

The next report said that Zaakir had turned himself into the police on the 29TH of Oct. He allegedly arrived at Douglasdale police station at 6am with his legal representative and that he was to appear in court the next day.

Refer to : “Tiger Tiger suspect gives himself up”

The final report that I read named Zaakir, and stated that he appeared in the Randburg magistrate court. He did not put forward his version of events and he was given bail of R10 000. His bail conditions are that he should report to Parkview police station every Saturday. He has also been charged with accounts of murder and attempted murder.

Refer to: ” Man in court for allegedly shooting brother”


At the beginning of the year when Oscar Pistorious allegedly shot his girlfriend Reeve Steenkamp, our class was made aware of the dangers of “Trial by media”. I understood it then, and when I read the articles about Oscar and what had happened that morning. I could see what the fuss was about, but it wasn’t a big fuss for me.

Now that I have spent my week reading about Zaakir, I don’t just understand it in theory. I get it practically, and the notion of a “Trial by media”has hit home, because it is a situation that is so close to me. Excuse my indulgence, I am aware that this case is nothing like the Oscar’s case. People have not taken to the twitter streets to say whether or not Zaakir is guilty; the papers have not produced detailed diagrams of where Zaakir was standing when he allegedly fired the shots and where they landed. So no, it isn’t quite the same. But if you take a moment to read those articles,[I have provided Links below) the first thing that will jump out at you (I don’t actually know, it might be a Journalist thing) is the fact that there is ONE source who gives an account of what happened that night. A police spokesperson, who wasn’t even there and is merely giving a second hand account of someone else’s information.

I am concerned about the fact that what this police spokesperson is saying, is most likely to be taken to be Gospel. Often people are most likely to take statements from prominent people and officials as being true. For the masses- what the police spokesperson said is probably true. I have heard a different version of events of that night which sounds a lot more plausible than the version that the media is churning out but I cannot and will not give the details of this version as it may jeopardize this case.

I have read every one of the articles written about Zaakir and although I wasn’t there either. I do not believe a word of what has been written.

Yes, I’ll admit it. Zaakir and I were never the best of friends, we had our clashes. So I am probably the last person who would be able to give a character analysis. Even so, I know for a fact that Zaakir would never have left his “mortally wounded” brother in a parking lot. If there is one thing Zaakir and his friends knew, it was loyalty. I am absolutely positively sure, that Zaakir did not leave his brother there, pick up the bullet casings and then drive off into the night. I may not know what he did, but I know he didnt do that.

The Police spokesperson has also theorized that Zaakir shot his brother while he tried to defuse the situation between Zaakir and the bouncers. How exactly do you know this sir?? You weren’t there.

But, we know for a fact that there were other people there- why have they not given their accounts as eyewitnesses? The guy that was shot in the ankle, he was not “mortally wounded” and I’m pretty sure he would be able to shed some light on the matter.  It bugs me that the media are running with a version being presented by a man that wasn’t even there.

I guess it does not help that Zaakir did not give his version of events in his court appearance. I don’t know what the plan is, but I do hope that Zaakir will choose to tell his side and even if it turns out to corroborate with the Spokespersons (which I think is highly unlikely) then so be it. For me it is important that people are given enough information so that they can make their own deductions of this case.

I know that in face of the Law, It doesn’t matter what we think. But For Zaakir, I think it does.

I don’t know what this is. I am not saying that Zaakir is guilty or innocent, I wasn’t there, I don’t know and besides its not my decision to make. I actually don’t know what I am saying or doing here, im not a lawyer. I am just a journalist that happened to go to school with a man that has been charged with the murder of his brother and attempted murder and all of it is so incredibly fucked up.

Apart from the major issue at hand, like the loss of a life. There are so many other questions that are going through my mind. Why does Zaakir have a gun? What could possibly be going on in his life that he would need to have a gun. That girl or rather “the companion” as  she is described in the media  where is she right now? She must have seen something if not everything, is she going to say something?

I have tried all week to try and make sense of all of this, but it just isn’t making sense to me. There are too many blank spaces in this story. It’s all so unreal. I cannot imagine what Zaakir is going through right now, and I’m sure it isn’t helping that nobody knows what actually happened that night except him.

This was not the way things were supposed to work out. This is not the stuff I ever imagined I would read. This is the second time I have written about Zaakir on my blog, but today it is with a very heavy heart. How did this happen? How did it all go so wrong?

As I said, everybody knows that I was never his favourite person after calling them out in assembly. In our Matric year, we had our run ins, but I never would have wished this on him. Maybe he shouldn’t have had a gun on him; maybe he shouldn’t have gotten into a fight, but regardless of all of that 20/20 hindsight. He doesn’t deserve this.

So to the Pelwan Family, strength and Love. I hope that everything works out as it should.


9 thoughts on “The boy I went to school with

  1. Pingback: The boy I went to school with | a little piece of nomatter ndebele

  2. Nomatter you must be commended on the balanced and insightful piece. You have a great future in journalism. Thank you for the right words to comfort a grieving family at just the right time.

  3. At first it seemed as if you were going against Zaakir but it turns out no matter what differences you guys had you are a good person and spoke from your heart,and I knew Zaakir very well and he would never do such a thing because both him and his brother had something that not many people have anymore and that is loyalty
    Thanks a lot

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