Aga Khan, the forgotten security guard in the Sash Sawh murder
“I believe I get a l’il raw deal. I went to Freedom House a couple times and they help me with the Old Age pension.
Many of us would readily recall the murders of Minister Satyadeow Sawh, and his sister and brother on that fateful night of April 22, 2006; some would even remember one of his security guards, Curtis Robertson, who was also shot dead that very night by a gang of marauding killers.
But how many of us will recall the other Security Guard, Aga Khan, who took a bullet in his stomach while working at the Minister’s residence that night.
Khan, now 68-years old, seems to be the forgotten victim of the attack, so much so that apart from the help of his former boss, the Central Islamic Organization of Guyana (CIOG) and the National Insurance Scheme, he is barely eking out a living after almost giving his life guarding a Minister of the present government.
He spoke of being shunned by the administration despite promises of help by senior operatives at Freedom House.
And it was as if the police were not really interested in successfully prosecuting the murders, since they never even took a statement from Khan who was obviously an eyewitness.
Six years after the tragedy, Khan is still reeling from its effects both physically and psychologically.
He has lost one of his kidneys which was damaged by the bullet fired from a high powered rifle, and has sustained damage to his spine
If you see him walking down the street, it would appear as if he is drunk. He sways from side to side.
But this condition is a result of the trauma and head injury he sustained after he was shot.
Today Khan is a walking drug store. He has to see doctors on a regular basis.
But no amount of medical attention could erase the ordeal from his memory and even as he lives out his days, a little help and appreciation is all that he craves.
Khan’s career as a security guard took him to the homes of several Government Ministers, including the late Michael Shree-Chand, Indra Chandarpal and finally Satyadeow Sawh and he came to know them personally.
That is why to this day he cannot understand why he has been so shabbily treated.
Yesterday Khan sat down with Kaieteur News at his Lusignan, East Coast Demerara home and recalled the events that changed his life as well as the lives of many others.
On the April 22, 2006, around 18:00 hours, Khan and his stepson, Curtis Robertson, reported for duty at Minister Sawh’s Earl’s Court, LBI, East Coast Demerara home. Of course they hadn’t the slightest inclination of the brutality that would have been experienced that night.
Although Guyana was in the midst of an unprecedented crime wave, an attack on a Government Minister was almost unthinkable.
It was for this reason that neither Khan nor his stepson was armed (the Minister had requested unarmed security personnel for his home).
Around 21:00 hours that evening, the Minister and his relatives, including his two sons left the premises for an outside dinner.
According to Khan, the night air was pierced with sporadic bursts from squibs (firecrackers) even at that time of the year, so what followed next really caught him by surprise.
The Minister, his wife Sattie, his brothers and his sister returned home around midnight and sat in the verandah of the single flat house, having a ‘drink’.
Khan had taken up his position at the back of the house under a benab, while his stepson was in front.
The elderly security guard said that he got up and went into an outdoor washroom where he “took a smoke” and “spent a little time”.
While in the washroom, he heard what he thought was the usual squibs and did not take it for anything much.
“When I finished smoking and I came out, I hear hollering and I run.” At the time Khan was unaware of what was actually taking place.
“If a centipede or anything in the house, crawling, they would call for Mr. Khan,” he said.
Thinking that it was one such situation, khan ran towards the front of the house.
Khan did not see anyone but as he was approaching the short stairway, he heard a loud crack and immediately felt a burning in his stomach. A bullet had passed through his left side.
“The chap was in the corner; probably he must be see when I coming and ‘bow!’ after I fall, all I hear Mr. Sawh say, ‘Take whatever y’all want, don’t harm me family’. And all I hear was three shots.”
The entire ordeal, he said, lasted no more than five minutes and to Khan it did not appear is if the perpetrators were there to commit robbery.
He did not hear what the killers were saying nor did he recognize any of them, since there was not much light in the verandah area.
Khan said that after he was shot he fell backwards and hit his head on the concrete but strangely, he did not lose consciousness.
He recalled that as he turned on his side, he saw his stepson, Curtis Robertson, lying motionless by the gate.
With his whole boy numb, Khan could hardly do anything to help himself or even check on his stepson, who he realized was badly wounded.
According to Khan when the bandits were leaving one of them heard Robertson groan and he turned back and “finished him off.”
“Naturally I see the guy push the gun through the gate and shoot me stepson, ‘Badow!’ Naturally I see his body raise up and fall back down.” Khan is convinced that had he made a sound he too would have been finished off.
After the killers left, the badly injured Khan, bleeding profusely from his wound, got up and went into the house where he met Mrs. Sawh who had by then emerged from her hiding place.
“I tell she, ‘Mistress, before you start hollering, phone fuh de ambulance’,” Khan said.
He managed to make it back outside and retrieved the radio set that the dead Robertson was carrying and made contact with his employers.
Twenty minutes later, his Manager arrived and a few minutes after that an ambulance came and took Khan and another security guard from a nearby residence who was also wounded, to the Georgetown Public Hospital.
Khan said that he was conscious all the time until doctors at the hospital sedated him in order to operate on him.
“When I wake up, they done de surgery. It damage one of me kidney, part of me urinary tract and I get a pinched disc.”
The fall he sustained also affected his movement.
“When I walk, I staggering. I know where I am going but I can’t walk in a straight line; I always unbalanced,” Khan explained.
He remained in the hospital for several days and since his discharge he has been unable to work.
Khan has been seeing countless doctors for his condition and although they have been able to prescribe treatment, it has done little to alleviate his suffering.
“One time, Dr (name given) ask me ‘Mr. Khan, you want I open you head and see what’s wrong inside’. I was really pissed off about it but I couldn’t say anything because he is a doctor,” the former security guard told Kaieteur News.
For the past six years, Khan has been trying to get some form of assistance from the administration but so far all he has received are promises.
“I believe I get a li’l raw deal. I went to Freedom House a couple times and they help me with the Old Age pension. I went many time and they say they gun see wha they can do. I go and went back and every time they saying ‘noting ain’t fix yet.”
Khan said that he met with the late President Janet Jagan and then General Secretary of the ruling PPP, Donald Ramotar, but nothing tangible was obtained.
“I just get fed up and stop going back. The only person I get help from is my boss man Mr. Richard Kanhai and the CIOG. I was really frustrated,”
He is confident, though, that should he get an audience with Ramotar who is now the President, he will be able to successfully put forward his case for some form of assistance.
“If I meet with him, I believe that he will try to make the wrong right. Because I talked to him before and he promised to help me but after I go several times and nothing happened, I never went back. I went about six, seven times and then I said ‘Look, it makes no sense’,” Khan said.
He was further frustrated when he sought an audience with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds only to be told by the Secretary that he has to write a letter, just to see the official.
Khan recalled that before he came out of hospital he was visited by the dead Minister’s wife.
The security guard said that it was he who advised Mrs. Sawh to leave Guyana following the death of her husband.
“I sit down and say ‘Mrs. Sawh, you got your two kids, don’t stay, move, because these guys done know what is what’, and eventually, the next couple months or so, she move.”
Khan’s medical bill is close to $15,000 per month in tablets alone and with his meager NIS income as well as his Old Age Pension, he has to rely on the assistance of his former employer and the CIOG.
“All the hospital giving me is Panadol and Ibuprofen,” Khan stated.
One man, David Leander, called ‘Biscuit’ had faced the court for the murders but no one was charged with the attempted murder of Aga Khan.
Khan wasn’t even called upon to testify at the trial. It was as if his injury was insignificant. To make matters worse, the police never even took a statement from him.
He described the work of a security guard as very dangerous and he lamented that there is often no thanks for the work that they do.
But despite all of his ‘mistreatment’ Khan is grateful to his Maker for sparing his life.
“We can run from anything but we cannot run from our destiny,” he said.