Family of beaten Hamilton cabbie still in shock as long rehab takes toll

Anwar Sajad was brutally assaulted last month. He's undergone multiple surgeries for his injuries, and his five children and wife still wait for him to come home.
Anwar Sajad's assault begs questions of driver safety on the job. (Terry Asma/CBC)

What Zunaira Sajad has been dealing with for the past month was almost too much for her to handle.

Her voice waivers just a bit, but stays strong, when the 22-year-old talks about the learning experience she's had. Her father, taxi driver Anwar Sajad, was brutally attacked last month. Her mother is still working as she takes care of him. Zunaira is helping take care of her four young siblings.

"I didn't know how hard it would be to explain to them in the most appropriate way what happened," she said, of her siblings aged four to 10.

On July 16, her father picked up three passengers on the corner of Upper Paradise and Mohawk for a trip to a townhouse complex near Limeridge Rd. At the end of the trip, one of the passengers went into a house to get his debit card. Sajad followed him towards the house and was attacked, police say.

He was in hospital up until last week with a dislocated pelvis, broken pelvis and broken leg. His daughter said he had a number of "successful" surgeries and is now in a Hamilton rehabilitation centre.

"I'm glad he's out of the hospital, but he's not home," she said. "It doesn't make a difference. He's not with us, he's not with his kids, he's not with his wife."

Father of five still can't sit or stand by himself

Zunaira said her father is unable to sit by himself, nor can he walk or stand up. His "left side is pretty much paralyzed," she said. A lot of staff at the rehabilitation centre work with him to get him through the day.

She isn't sure when he might be coming home but "we're talking months, not weeks," she said.

In the meantime, she fields questions from siblings: "We don't like going there, why can't dad come home? Can't we take care of him? When can dad come home?"

Zunaira and her mother try to keep the young ones away from media reports about their dad.

"We don't want them to see that something so negative could happen in a city like Hamilton, where they are growing up," she said.

Zunaira is putting her own life on hold, as she takes care of the kids — just before this Tuesday afternoon interview, she was preparing them lunch. She has a decision to make. She's been accepted to medical school but that may have to wait.

"My mom really wants me to go," she said.

Beating of Hamilton cabbie racially motivated, daughter says

Hamilton Cab fundraiser for Sajad family

Wednesday, Aug. 21

430 Cannon Street East

12:00 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Support from the community

Despite the pain the Sajad family has felt, Zunaira is quick to acknowledge support from the community.

"Everyone is being so supportive," she said. "It's amazing how people have come out. They felt our pain."

Hamilton Cab's annual community BBQ Wednesday will also double as a fundraiser for the Sajad family, said CEO Jagtar Singh Chahal. The Sajad family won't be there, Zunaira said.

"We're not mentally prepared for that," she said. "He's still lying in bed... that doesn't make me feel any better."

Zunaira said her family does not plan to file a lawsuit. All her father and the rest of the family want is justice. The 19-year-old male charged with assault in this case was released on bail.

"I hope the guy will be punished in a way that sets an example," she said. "I hope he doesn't get away with it."