A family who unknowingly hired Covid-positive removalists to cart their possessions from Wollongong to a NSW country town have been viciously trolled by locals.
The Figtree couple’s possessions were picked up by Roni and Ramsin Shawka on July 15 and taken to Molong, in the state’s Central West, the following day.
When the crew reached the nearby town of Orange, one of the south-west Sydney removalists was called by NSW Health and told he had tested positive to Covid-19.
Despite the warning, three crew members then allegedly continued on the half-hour drive to Molong, to finish their run.
The Shawkas were met in the street by police and escorted back to Sydney.
The alleged debacle led some rogue residents to slam both the removalists and, surprisingly, the family who moved to Molong, population 1600, in the first place.
One local suggested he would leave faeces on their doorstep in a since-deleted series of posts to a neighbourhood Facebook group.
Another local claimed the family should be fined, and said she didn’t understand the sympathy others were showing to ‘strangers’.
Roni (left) and Ramsin (right) Shawka were accused of driving around regional NSW despite being told they had tested positive to the virus
The couple (above) moved from Figtree, in the NSW Illawarra region, to Molong in regional New South Wales – but never would have expected what unfolded next
However, a considerable number of the town’s residents have jumped to the family’s defence – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed to Molong’s newest residents.
One half of the couple ‘liked’ a Facebook post from a local business owner which said what the removalists allegedly did was ‘definitely wrong. But they did not get out and enter any business houses in Molong
‘Spare a thought first of all to the family that moved here, it’s not their fault.
‘They are innocent in all of this … so let’s help them out as much as we can in the Molong spirit we all have.’
Neighbours insisted the couple had been doing the right thing – even inspecting the property via online video, rather than in person, prior to the move.
The new residents have been isolating at home in the wake of their exposure. They have received grocery deliveries even a hamper from local businesses.
For the removalists, there has been a tragic twist, with Roni and Ramsen’s mother, Saeeda, dying on Sunday night after testing positive to Covid.
Tragic: Saeeda Shawka (left) died on Sunday after contracting Covid. Widower Adel Shawka (right) informed his neighbours that he is now infectious and quarantining inside his home
The family all live together at this five-bedroom home in Green Valley in Sydney’s south-west. The twins’ removalist truck is seen safely deposited on the side of the house this week
Daily Mail Australia revealed this week that their father Adel has also tested positive to the virus.
Mr Shawka warning his Green Valley neighbour Ma Ta to shut their windows and garage doors to prevent the spread of infection.
The Shawkas were charged with breaching the public health orders, which could see them face six months’ imprisonment fines of up to $11,000 each.
Sources close to the family believe the shock of the ordeal may have contributed to Mrs Shawka’s demise.
The twins will face Orange Local Court on August 30.
The Orange Local Government Area and nearby Blayney and Cabonne Shires have gone into lockdown for a week over an unrelated infectious pet food delivery driver who visited the area several times recently.
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 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.’