The tragedy that struck a Saudi family last month has deepened following the death of the hospitalised young girl who was hit by a driver who was rushing to rescue his daughter from their domestic helper.
Farah died on Thursday, two weeks after her father, Abdul Rahman Qindeel, was killed when the car he was driving collided with the vehicle driven by Khalid Al Shihri who was on his way home after he received a call from his wife that their youngest daughter, Tala, was in mortal danger.
According to Saudi police and media reports, Tala, four-years-old, was killed by their Indonesian domestic helper who was alone with her in the house. Her mother, a teacher, was at work and her three sisters were at school.
The police have been investigating the case, but have not yet provided any explanation that would shed light on the causes of the murder that shook Saudi society and prompted several women teachers to petition the education ministry to set up nurseries and kindergartens in their schools to help ensure the safety of their children.
Tala’s family have said that they never suspected the helper would kill their daughter and insisted that she treated the children well and that she was praised by neighbours and visitors.
“The domestic helper worked for us for three years, and not seven as initially reported,” Khaleed Al Shahri said. “She had a good character and morals and she was very nice to our daughters. We exempted her from working in the kitchen and asked her to help with cleaning the house and looking after the girls during our absence. We regularly helped her,” the father told local Arabic news site Sabq.
The family was never late in giving the helper salary and often offered her gifts such as clothes to encourage her, he said.
“My wife and daughters have never ill-treated her and she had no plans to leave us one week before the murder was committed. She did not have the intention to travel home and we would not have objected to it, anyway,” he said.
Giving his version of what happened on the day of the multi-fold tragedy on Wednesday, Al Shahri, who worked for oil giant Aramco in the western city of Yanbu, said he received a phone call from his wife informing him that she could not enter their house.
The wife said she did not get any answer from the domestic helper or Tala even though she repeatedly pounded the door and the windows. “My first thought was that it could be the electricity because my daughter always tried to charge her ipod,” he said.
Khaleed said he took the car and rushed to reach home.
“However, I had an accident that resulted in the death of a man and injuries to his daughter who is still in hospital. I called my wife to tell her that I had an accident and that she needed to act. She called the civil defence and alerted our neighbours,” he said.
The servicemen entered the house through the window and opened the door.“When my wife got in she started shouting our daughter’s name and when she heard no answer, she went up the stairs to the first floor. She found the helper in one of the rooms and she pointed to the bedroom. There she found Tala with blood dripping from her neck. She realised that Tala was dead and went downstairs where she fainted. Yara, our daughter, also lost her consciousness after she understood that something terrible had happened. My wife was rushed to hospital.”
Al Shahri said he did not know about his daughter’s death until 24 hours later.“I was kept under observation in hospital following the accident. Relatives who visited me told me that my family was fine and informed about Tala’s death much later. I resiliently accepted her fate and God’s decision.”
He said reports that the family of the man killed in the road accident had forgiven him were not true.“They did not mention anything about it and I am willing to do anything they want from me. My family has already offered condolences and I pray to God that He grants His mercy on him,” he said.
Al Shahri and his wife have four daughters, Yara, 16, Luma, 15, Jana (10) and Tala. The mother is a middle school teacher in Yanbu industrial city.
On Saturday, a religious court looking into the case said that interpreters were needed for the helper’s testimony and that they would endorse the investigation report only after they listen to her directly, even though she has reportedly admitted the crime.
Meanwhile, the traffic authorities said that their investigation into the road accident that resulted in two deaths would proceed normally and that it would not be affected by the tragedy that struck the Al Shihri family.
“The traffic authorities do not get emotionally involved in any accident and apply the rules regardless of what happened,” Omar Al Nazawi, a spokesman for the traffic directorate in Medina, said, quoted by the daily.
Investigations into the accident were suspended until Al Shihri left the hospital where he was being kept under surveillance and until the end of the condolences.