The once successful migrant family of a 19-year-old girl whose body was found in an acid bath is in financial dire straits as they await the murder trial of the man accused of killing their daughter.
Before their daughter’s shocking death, the family of Arnima Hayat family ran a thriving Halal butchery on one of the Lakemba’s main strips.
Arnima was a ‘happy Aussie’ studying medicine to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor.
But 18 months on from her alleged murder, the proud immigrants from Bangladesh have been forced to close down their business, which prided itself on its ‘best quality 100% Halal meat”.
The closure came after meat wholesaler Woodward Foods Australia applied to wind up the business in June, after months during which the family struggled to operate it while consumed with grief and relied on food parcels.
It is a further blow to Arnima’s grieving and deeply traumatised parents, Abu Hayat, 42, and Mahafuzer Akter, 40, in their increasing struggle to survive.
Following her daughter’s death, and the gruesome allegations of her body’s disposal which left the Hayats unable to properly bury her according to Bangladeshi custom, Arnima’s mother suffered PTSD and was unable to work.
Fearful of staying home alone after the trauma of losing her daughter, Mahafuzer Akter also found it difficult to travel to access Bengali language trauma counselling.
Medical student Arnima Hayat (left) was the pride of her Bangladeshi but she ended up in an acid bath allegedly murdered by her boyfriend Meraj Zafar (right) and now her successful migrant family are financially falling apart
Arnima Hayat (above with her mother Mahafuzer) was a source of pride for her family and Sydney’ Bangladeshi community, but since her death the Hayats have struggled to survive
The family butcher shop in Lakemba above has closed after they were unable to pay bills because of the grief suffered by the deeply traumatised Hayats after Anrima’s alleged murder affected their ability to work
Arnima’s father has temporarily returned back to Bangladesh, robbed of his livelihood by tragic circumstance and his once proud family in disarray.
The Hayats have also been affected by the delays in the case against their daughter’s accused killer, Meraj Zafar, who has had a series of different lawyers representing him.
The man accused of killing his daughter Arnima and placing her body in an acid bath has now been arraigned for her alleged murder and will go to trial at a date yet to be fixed.
At the time of her death, Arnima Hayat was studying medicine at the University of Western Sydney, having graduated from high school with an HSC score of 97.
When she Meraj Zafar, a high school drop out who became her first boyfriend, she began withdrawing from family and friends, the Hayats say.
Arnima’s father, Abu Hayat, had emigrated to Australia in 2006, and begun working to gain his temporary residence visa to bring out his wife Mahafuzer and their daughter when Arnima was a nine-year-old.
As a child, Mr Hayat said, Arnima was ‘very good, very talented and honest, polite and gentle’ and she had quickly assimilated into Australian life.
‘She would sometimes be naughty and prank us. However, she had so much love towards us,’ he said.
‘When I left her in Bangladesh [and came to Australia], she would call me and say, “Dad, when are you going to take me to Australia? Dad, when are we going to Australia?”. I told her, “I will take you very soon”.’
Arnima’s younger sister (above the sisters together) has also found it hard to come to terms with the fact that ‘Arnima is no more’ since the alleged murder of the promising medical student
Promising medical student Arnima Hayat withdrew from her family after becoming involved with Meraj Zafar (the couple, pictured) and moving into the flat where she later died
Arnima with her parents in 2013, not long after she and her mother had joined Abu in Sydney and she quickly assimilated into being an Aussie girl and speaking perfect English. A friend posted on this Facebook photo ‘Happy Family’
Before meeting Mr Zafar, Arnima was a normal, sociable teenager who regularly told her family how much she loved them,
Arnima started school in Australia in 2013 and graduated to Tempe High School, where she excelled in maths and was popular among her peers.
She dreamed of being a surgeon, and was admitted to the faculty of medicine at the University of Western Sydney for which Mr Hayat paid his daughter’s fees, as well as the butcher shop’s $7000 a month rent.
Arnima got a part-time job working at Kmart in Marrickville Metro shopping centre as a salesperson, two days a week.
Against her parents wishes, she moved in with Meraj Zafar, a labourer, the young couple signing a lease in October 2021 on the flat in North Parramatta where the teenager’s body was found in a bath of hydrochloric acid four months later.
Arnima did not see her parents again before her death.
Abu Hayat and Mahafuzer Aker, distraught with grief as they prepared to bury their 19-year-old daughter following her death and the immersion of her body in a bath of hydrochloric acid
Abu Hayat, above holding his younger daughter close at Arnima’s funeral in February 2022,have since struggled financially with their grief interfering with the ability to run the family business
On Sunday, January 30, Mr Zafar reportedly rang his parents and his mother called police.
Around 4.30pm, NSW Fire and Rescue officers were forced to wear Hazmat suits to enter the bathroom of the flat on Pennant Hills Rd where Arnima Hayat’s remains were immersed in 100 litres of hydrochloric acid.
An average bath will hold 100 litres of liquid and Arnima Hayat’s parents told Daily Mail Australia their daughter was found immersed in liquid up to the bath’s brim, with only one foot undestroyed by the chemical.
According to a statement of police facts, Zafar allegedly purchased a 20-litre bottle of the acid at Bunnings Northmead on Sunday morning before returning to purchase four more.
Mr Zafar handed himself in to Bankstown police station the following day and police seized his Mitsubishi Fuso tipper truck with the distinctive ‘MAKKAC’ number plate at Greenacre, for forensic examination.
He has been in custody ever since and was arraigned in the NSW Supreme Court earlier this month.
The proud and successful migrant family from Bangladesh (above Arnima with parents Mahafuzer and Abu after getting 97 in the HSC) are now finding it hard to cope with life in the wake of her death
Surrounded by friends, Arnima’s mother Mahafuzer (centre) is overcome with grief at her daughter gravesite during an emotional burial ceremony for the 19-year-old medical student
Following their daughter’s death, the Hayat family was forced to forego the traditional Bangladeshi funeral where family view their deceased loved one’s face before laying her to rest in the ground.
They said they would not be able to see their ‘daughter’s beautiful face’ before laying her to rest – because the only part of the teenager’s body not destroyed by acid was one of her feet.
‘I cannot see the last moment of my daughter’s face,’ Mr Hayat said.
Instead, Arnima Hayat’s remains were wrapped in blue cloth and a white shroud to be viewed and touched by her family members at the ritual farewell at Lakemba mosque.
Arnima Hayat and her boyfriend Meraj Zafar moved into the North Parramatta flat (above) where her remains were found
Abu Hayat (above at his daughter’s funeral) is currently in Bangladesh after the closure of his halal butchery in Lakemba after the family was stymied by grief
Meraj Zafar is behind bars charged with Arnima’s murder and will face trial at a date yet to be fixed
On February 8, Mahafuzer Akter collapsed by the graveside of her daughter Arnima as loved ones gathered at Rookwood Cemetery to speak of their pride in the young medical student’s bright future which had lain ahead.
At Arnima’s burial, which Daily Mail Australia attended at the invitation of her family to serve as a record to honour her life, Arnima’s uncle Abu Saleh told around 60 mourners: ‘We farewell our beautiful daughter, forever to live in our hearts.
‘I ask everyone to keep her in your prayers. I hope she can get some peace.’
Mr Saleh told Daily Mail Australia: ‘Our family will miss Arnima always.’
He said the teenager’s young sister was still struggling to take in the horrific death and ‘was not believing that Arnima is no more’.
Mahafuzer, who cries every night over the loss of her daughter and ‘every evening feels fear’, cannot sleep properly and feels anxious about her renmaining daughter, who attends primary school in Sydney.
Sydney Bangladeshi community member and president of Good Citizens Work, Sultana Akter, told Daily Mail Australia that Arnima’s family ‘need justice for Arnima, but their suffering interfered with running a business. They didn’t have enough money to pay the rent.
‘They have had no financial help.’
Members of the Bangladeshi community (above with Arnima’s uncle Abu Saleh carrying her coffin) spoke of their pride in the young medical student’s bright future which had lain ahead