11 ‘in touch with Isis’

2018-10-26 15:36
Gavel (iStock)

Gavel (iStock)

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More allegations of links between the suspected Verulam mosque attackers and Islamic State (Isis) members have emerged.

Allegations that the accused “communicate freely” with Isis members “outside the country” are contained in a second supplementary affidavit by the lead investigating officer in the case, which was filed in court at the eleventh hour on Thursday.

Defence lawyers for the men currently seeking bail in the case held off filing their responses to the allegations made by the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Kwezi Chonco, after the prosecution filed its second affidavit late on Thursday.

In it, Chonco claims there is evidence showing the men communicated freely with Isis members outside the country. He also alleges that digital devices belonging to one of the men, Farhad Hoomer — fingered by Chonco as the group’s leader — contained “photographs and videos which clearly indicates his support and commitment” to Isis.

Chonco also noted that releasing the 11 on bail would cause a public outcry, attaching a photograph of a protest outside court when the accused appeared previously.

Asking for a postponement of the matter till Tuesday, lawyers for the men said there would be prejudice to them (if they had to respond on Thursday) as they had not had a chance to consider the new affidavit by Chonco.

The defence was initially expected to respond to the allegations outlined in Chonco’s original affidavit handed to court, setting out the state’s opposition to bail for the men, on Tuesday.

In it, Chonco said there was evidence that the men had used an Isis handbook when carrying out the attacks.

He also alleged that a Durban house owned by Hoomer was used as an Isis “training” camp, that the group was targeting “non-believers”, and that material seized from them indicated they had “support” for Isis.

Eleven accused are presently applying for bail out of a group of an initial 19 who were arrested in connection with the attack on the Imam Hussein Mosque in Ottawa, Verulam in May.

Worshipper Abbas Essop was murdered in the attack and two others, Imam Ali Nchiyane and caretaker Mohammed Ali, were stabbed.

Charges were subsequently provisionally withdrawn against seven suspects due to insufficient evidence, while another accused, Goolam Mohammed Rashid Haffejee, was granted R100 000 bail.

An explosive device was detonated at the mosque during the incident.

The state alleges that the accused extorted money from Durban businesses, threatening them with explosive devices. They are also charged for allegedly placing explosive devices at several Woolworths outlets in Durban.

The charges they face include murder, attempted murder, extortion, arson, and charges related to terrorism.

Hoomer’s defence advocate, Jimmy Howse, said on Thursday defence teams would not be filing their responses to the state’s evidence because of the new allegations.

Howse said legal teams drew up “replies for [the first affidavit], but at the last minute we have been presented with” the new one. “A prejudice has been created,” he said, and suggested defence teams file their responses on Monday. The case, however, will only return to court on Tuesday.

Magistrate Irfaan Khalil granted the request and postponed the hearing until Tuesday.

The case has been characterised by its sensitive nature, and the media is not allowed to record or to take photographs during proceedings.

The state has also said that a second identity parade is going to be held.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  verulam mosque attack

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