Worshippers at a Durban mosque have been left in shock and disbelief after the building was set on fire, destroying a large portion of the place of worship, an official told News24 on Monday.
"There is a lot of grief at the moment. It is almost like there is a death in the family. It is like losing a mother or a child," Imraan Subrathie, a senior official at the Faizane Mariam Masjid said.
Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said police were investigating a case of arson.
She said a worker at the mosque who lives on-site heard the breaking of windows around 00:20.
"He saw fire inside the mosque and managed to get out through the window. No injuries were reported. The prayer room was extensively damaged. It is suspected that unknown suspects poured petrol and fled the scene."
Faizane Mariam Masjid which was petrol bombed in the early hours of Monday morning (Twitter)
Subrathie said the mosque, located on Effingham Road, was always a place of peace.
"We cannot understand why someone would do such a thing. There are a lot of foreign nationals that use this as a place of safety and worship. It means so much to so many people. Our worshippers are literally in tears."
He said that in the 18 years that the mosque has existed, there had never been an incident "of this magnitude".
"We have had incidents of vandalism, but nothing like this."
Subrathie said that while the mosque was badly damaged, they were not giving up.
"Worship is continuing at the back section that has been saved. Some activities are continuing as normal. It is a large area that has been damaged, but we want to get it repaired for our worshippers."
He said mosque officials had been assisting authorities.
"There are a host of investigators on-site and we are looking into possible eyewitnesses so we can get to the bottom of this."
He called for calm as investigations continued.
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