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Tampines tragedy: Crash victims buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery, one plot apart

Tampines tragedy: Crash victims buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery, one plot apart
Family, relatives and friends doing a prayer at the funeral of Afifah Munirah Muhammad Azril in Pasir Ris on April 23.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Barely two weeks after celebrating Hari Raya Aidilfitri, two families had to arrange for their loved ones to be buried at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on April 23.

And their graves were just one plot apart from each other.

Madam Norzihan Juwahib, 57, and Afifah Munirah Muhammad Azril, 17, were killed in a six-vehicle collision in Tampines on April 22. Six others were taken to hospital.

Madam Norzihan’s family had just celebrated Hari Raya at her new flat in Sengkang a day before the accident, her niece told The Straits Times at the cemetery.

Wanting to be known only as Ms Atiqa, she said her aunt lived alone and had moved into her flat less than four months ago.

Said the 26-year-old: “Our family were devastated when we heard the news. That was her first and last Raya (at her new place).”

Madam Norzihan was buried at 4pm, surrounded by about 50 loved ones, including her 79-year-old mother.

Family members remembered her as a joyful and caring person who showered her mother and eight siblings with love. She treated them often to meals and accompanied her mother to medical appointments.

Her brother, Mr Mohd Sani, 48, said the family had come to terms with the loss.

The casket of the the late Madam Norzihan Juwahib during the funeral at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on April 23. PHOTO: The Straits Times

He said: “This is all (in) God’s hands. I don’t want to blame people. This one is written by God already, we accept that. My mother also accepts the tragedy.”

Madam Norzihan was a passenger in a van belonging to pest control firm First Choice Pest Specialist when the accident occurred. She was a senior technician who had worked there for about 10 years.

The firm’s business development manager, who wanted to be known only as Mr Joedzuanir, 49, said the company has lost more than a hard-working colleague.

He said: “We lost not only a friend (and) a sister, but also a teacher.”

Madam Norzihan liked to help her colleagues and often offered advice to newcomers, he added.

Mr Joedzuanir said he was driving to work when he received photos of the accident from colleagues and heard that Madam Norzihan had died.

He said she was also on her way to work when the accident occurred. He was some distance away and had to pass the site.

Mr Joedzuanir said Madam Norzihan had often joined him on holidays with his wife and children, and they had planned to travel to Batam and Malaysia next week.

“Everybody (is) in shock, we just can’t believe she’s gone. We are also angry at the person who did this and cost not only my colleague’s life but also the life of the student who died. It’s a big loss,” he added.

Afifah, a Temasek Junior College student who was the other victim of the crash, was buried at about 6.15pm. More than 100 people were present.

Family, relatives and friends at the funeral of Temasek Junior College student Afifah Munirah Muhammad Azril at a multi-purpose hall in Pasir Ris. PHOTO: The Straits Times

Her father, Mr Muhammad Azril, a Police Coast Guard officer, was taking her to a school event in their car when the crash happened. He suffered kidney- and spine-related injuries. Their car had turned turtle with its doors flung open.

At around 2.30pm, more than 250 people were at their flat in Pasir Ris to receive her body from Singapore General Hospital.

Those present included her father’s colleagues and most of the technical staff of the Lion City Sailors academy, where Afifah’s uncle coaches.

At the cemetery, a group of teenage girls was crying and hugging one another. Other mourners laid white chrysanthemums on Afifah’s grave.

Attendees at the funeral of the late Afifah Munirah Muhammad Azril at Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery on April 23. PHOTO: The Straits Times

Shell technician Muhammad Rosman Abdul Razak, 45, was at Afifah’s Pasir Ris flat.

He was driving his daughter to school when he chanced upon the accident.

Having been trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), he rushed over to help the injured. He said Afifah’s father was semi-conscious.

Mr Rosman said: “He kept asking me to look for his daughter. He said, ‘My daughter, my daughter, she’s at the back.’” 

Afifah’s father kept calling for her even as he was being pulled out from beneath his car, he added.

When they finally found the girl, there was little that could be done, said Mr Rosman.

Turning emotional, he said: “I kept talking to her, but she didn’t respond. I felt very helpless because I am trained in CPR, but I couldn’t do anything.”

  • Additional reporting by Christie Chiu and Andrew Wong

ALSO READ: 'We're angry but we'll accept it': Family of woman killed in Tampines crash has lost 3 members in a year

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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