The miracle the family of Torrance Mohammed was praying for did not materialise and instead, San Fernando is now in mourning.
The cultural icon succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday night, a day after he was attacked and robbed at Mon Repos, San Fernando.
Many expressed their sadness on social media yesterday, as they reflected on his tremendous contributions to the performing arts in the southern city and by extension the country.
Mohammed, 90, also served at the corporation as a deputy mayor and councillor.
According to a police report, Mohammed was accosted by a man who was not wearing a face mask. The man grabbed Mohammed’s cellphone and gold chain and then shoved him to the ground.
According to a WhatsApp voice note by a woman, Mohammed was waiting in front of the house when the man grabbed his chain from around his neck.
“And when Torrance tried to fight back, he pushed Torrance to the ground hard.”
Mohammed was sitting on the pavement when the police arrived. The woman said they waited for an hour for an ambulance before a friend took him to the hospital in his (friend’s) car.
Mohammed was listed in a critical condition and suffered a broken rib and injuries to his back and spine. He passed away around 9.08 pm on Tuesday.
Reacting to his death, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello said, “San Fernando is in mourning. Torrance is more than an iconic figure, Torrance is San Fernando.”
Regrello, who met with Mohammed’s sister and niece yesterday, said the corporation will be paying his funeral expenses.
Mohammed’s sister Fariza Mohammed recalled seeing him on Monday morning when he brought her some pomerac, but said they chatted outside because they were not visiting each other’s house due to COVID-19.
“I was so happy I was there to see him and Derron was able to take him to the hospital. We saw him yesterday morning. We talked and prayed with him. We gave him regards from all the family away,” she recalled.
“I know all his condition was critical but I trust in God so much. I told God I was leaving it up to Him to decide what is the best thing. But still hoping that there would be a miracle.”
She said her brother, the fourth of 12 siblings, devoted his life to the community of San Fernando.
“He took his groups to different parts of the world—Africa, Toronto, South America—so much he did.”
Recalling that he was a very shy person, she said it was amazing to see the individual he became.
“I love him so much. I will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are together with the rest of the family.”
While he was a father and a grandfather, she said he was not “husband material,” as his life was devoted to the culture and uplifting the youths.
Tourism, Culture and Arts Minister Randall Mitchell took to Facebook where he described Mohammed as one of the country’s foremost dance pioneers. He said Mohammed was a well-known choreographer and a founding member of the Arawak Dance Group, San Fernando Arts Council and the National Dance Association of T&T.
“His work spanned beyond the arts industry with his 16-year tenure as a PNM councilor and his 4-year term as deputy mayor of the San Fernando City Corporation. He was a treasured son of San Fernando and worked tirelessly to advance our culture.”
Mitchell added, “He contributed his very best to humankind and we’ve lost him to the very worst of human nature. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.”
San Fernando East MP Brian Manning also paid tribute.
“It is with a heavy heart that we must now say goodbye to yet another cultural icon of the south Mr Torrance Mohammed, a master of dance and one who was loved and respected by all has passed away under rather tragic circumstances. We are all heartbroken by this but we have with us many memories of your unmatched talent, your love for culture and the arts, your love for south Trinidad, your wisdom, your generosity and kindness to all. You are indeed a hero and we will honour your memory.”
Police said an arrest is imminent.