Removalist family tragedy: Saeeda ‘Sandy’ Shawka, left, was found dead on Monday after testing positive to Covid-19, leaving behind her husband Adel (right). Mrs Shawkwa is the mother of the twin removalists who were charged for travelling to regional NSW while infectious
Traumatised family of a mother-of-five who died from Covid believe her shock at the hefty punishment her twin sons faced as well as the public shame from the men allegedly breaching public health orders contributed to her death.
Saeeda Shawka, 54, was found dead in her home in Green Valley, in Sydney’s south-west about 9.15am on Monday , with NSW Health counting Mrs Shawka as the fifth death of the latest Indian Delta strain outbreak that’s plunged five million into hard lockdown.
Her sudden death in the family’s five bedroom home came just 48 hours after police charged her removalist sons Roni and Ramsen, 27, for travelling to regional NSW while infectious with the virus.
Daily Mail Australia understands Mrs Shawka’s daughter found the lifeless body of the mum ‘with a sweet laugh’ after checking on her because she had slept in so late.
Mrs Shawka had been suffering from a nasty cough and had been complaining about breathing difficulties, neighbours said, however her death came rapidly.
Police are investigating on behalf of the Coroner. Dr Kerry Chant, NSW’s chief health officer, said on Tuesday that it is possible for Covid patients to ‘deteriorate rapidly’.
However, grieving family members are also attributing Mrs Shawka’s sudden death to the ‘shock’ of the punishment faced by her boys, her neighbours said.
Pictured: Roni (left) and Ramsen (right) Shawka, who lost their mother on Monday morning after she died from Covid-19 – days after they were accused of driving around regional NSW despite being told they had tested positive to the virus
The family all live together at this five-bedroom home in Green Valley in Sydney’s south-west. The twins’ removalist truck was safely deposited by the side of the home while the grieving family isolated and mourned together on Tuesday
A locked down neighbour speaks to media outside his home on Tuesday in the wake of the sudden tragedy
‘The shock of learning her boys were fined $22,000, that’s what did it (killed Mrs Shawka),’ one neighbour said.
‘That and just the heartbreak of seeing her sons faces all over the news. The fear of being spat at in public, of being shamed. All over a mistake.’
Another claimed: ‘The virus has obviously spread in their household and there’s been not too much movement there.
‘And then on Sunday night, this. That’s what her family knows. It was shock and a broken heart, that’s what killed her.’
Roni and Ramsen were in Orange, in the state’s Central West, about 2.30pm on Friday when Roni was called by NSW Health and told he had tested positive.
The pair, and fellow co-accused Mario Shanki, then allegedly traveled on to Molong, about 30 minutes away, to complete their delivery.
There they were intercepted by local police and charged with breaching the public health orders.
If found guilty, the pair could face six months’ jail time or an $11,000 fine each. Their alleged act was branded ‘thoughtless’ and ‘blatant’ by Police Minister David Elliott.
But Roni and his boss, Amin Yousef, blamed their poor English skills for what they said was an unfortunate misunderstanding.
Pictured: Ramsen (left) and his twin brother Roni with their partners at an event. Both men have Covid-19 and are accused of travelling through regional NSW despite being aware of that
Neighbours said the woman had only tested positive for the disease three days earlier, had a nasty cough and had been complaining of breathing difficulties. Seen here is the street in lockdown where the family live
Mrs Shawka’s family members were forced to quarantine in their cars, out the front of the home, while police in personal protective equipment investigated
Distraught relatives who arrived on the scene after Mrs Shawka’s death on Monday were forced to quarantine in cars and face masks out the front for up to six hours, while police in PPE investigated.
‘It was pretty cruel,’ said neighbour Sam, a restaurant owner. ‘They had to just sit and wait while that was all going down.’
For locals, it was clear to some that something was amiss even before they saw the news.
Saeeda’s husband Adel had stopped coming out the front to clean the truck, and Mrs Shawkwa was no longer tending to the garden.
Next door neighbour Mrs Ta said she’d never heard the house so quiet since they first moved in in November 2019, and questioned whether something was wrong.
The daily tradition of Mr Shawka waking up early and going to buy fresh bread for the family stopped about four days ago, as did the strong smell of home cooking.
Sounds of laughter and Arabic phone calls have since been traded for ‘endless crying,’ the woman said.
Generations of the tragic Shawka family (pictured) all lived together under the same roof before Covid killed the mother of the two removalists who travelled to regional NSW while infected
Neighbour Sam (left) said locals felt helpless to assist the grieving, Covid-infected family in their hour of need
Heartbroken Roni called his mother ‘his life’ in a Facebook tribute.
‘Mama, my love, you are my life,’ he wrote in a heartfelt comment which attracted hundreds of people to the post to offer condolences. ‘Mama, you are my comfort and my life, Mama’.
Meanwhile, the entire street remains under strict lockdown due to Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s orders that people in south-west Sydney stay home unless absolutely necessary
Mrs Shawka’s neighbours said they felt helpless.
Sam said: ‘Normally, we’d take over some hot meals. We’d drop off flowers, or ask if there is anything we can do to help. We’d try to stick together, but in this case we can’t.
‘They’re all alone. Those boys are probably feeling immense guilt, their self esteem shot.
‘Their father is now a widow. These are good, honest, working class people. It’s horrible to know we’re so close but still can’t help them.’
From trouble to tragedy: How Covid-positive twin removalists who travelled to regional NSW returned home only for their mother to die
The four-man removalist crew were already in Orange when NSW Health called to inform Roni that he had tested positive to the highly contagious Indian Delta strain. Seen here is a map of their route
THURSDAY – Four removalists leave West Hoxton in Sydney’s south-west, and travel to Figtree, near Wollongong.
Their boss at On Time Removals, Aram Yousif, asks them to get a Covid test pefore proceeding to the state’s far west, on the next leg of their journey.
Mr Yousif was told: ‘Aram we are very healthy, we have no symptoms, why should we do the test?’
The removalists get tested but allegedly proceed on to Orange, in the NSW Central West, rather than isolating as required by law.
FRIDAY – About 2.30pm, police in Molong speak to the removalists after receiving a tip they had travelled from Sydney’s south-west.
Police determine the men had travelled from West Hoxton to Figtree, near Woolongong, and then on to Molong.
They officers learn the men allegedly had pit stops at South Bowenfels and Orange along the way.
Officers allege that while in Orange, one of the crew received a call from NSW Health saying they had tested positive to Covid-19.
However, three of the men then continued to Molong, police claimed.
Those men – twins Roni and Ramsen Shawka, both 27, and Maryo Shanki, 21 – were charged with breaching the health orders and escorted back to Sydney.
SATURDAY – The crew is criticised by Police Minister David Elliott, who described their alleged actions as an ‘unfathomable’ and ‘blatant’ breach of the law.
‘This thoughtless act has now placed our regional communities in New South Wales at the greatest risk so far with this pandemic,’ Mr Elliott said in a press release announcing the charges.
Mr Elliott warns the men could face six months’ imprisonment and/or an $11,000 fine each, if found guilty of violatnig the pubilc health order.
Both Roni Shakwa and his boss, Mr Yousef, tell media outlets the crew had poor English skills and what happened was a misunderstanding.
Roni told The Daily Telegraph he felt ‘very bad’ about travelling so far with the virus but said ‘it’s not my fault’.
Mr Shawka recounted that he was driving in Orange when he got a call from a NSW Health saying to stop working and go home.
‘I gave them the number of my boss, I told them my language is not very good,’ Mr Shawka was quoted saying.
‘I (did) not kill someone … I was (doing) my work, I swear to God I didn’t know (I was positive).’
MONDAY – The twins’ mother, Saeeda ‘Sandy’ Shawka, is found dead at home in Green Valley.
Her children are forced to quarantine in the car on the street outside the family home for up to six hours.
In a statement, NSW Health confirms that Mrs Shawka was Covid-positive at the time.
‘NSW Health today sadly reports the death of a woman in her 50s who was a confirmed Covid-19 case,’ a representative said.
‘She was a resident of south western Sydney and a close contact of a Covid case.’
Covid-positive removalist’s mum ‘may have died from SHOCK” at her sons’ punishment