KZN bomb attacks: 11 accused apply for bail via affidavits

2018-10-22 22:11
A group of friends and family of those who were attacked at the Verulam mosque demonstrate outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court. (Kerushun Pillay, file)

A group of friends and family of those who were attacked at the Verulam mosque demonstrate outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court. (Kerushun Pillay, file) (Kerushun Pillay)

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One of the men accused of the fatal attack at a KwaZulu-Natal Shia mosque and the placement of several explosive devices at Durban shopping centres is a foreign national whose Visa expired four days before he was arrested.

Abubaker Ali was the only one of the 11 accused who had a previous conviction. He was previously found guilty of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft in South Africa, for which he was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

This emerged when the man and 10 co-accused applied for bail, via sworn affidavits handed to Magistrate Irfaan Khalil, in the Verulam Family Court on Monday.

The 11 accused form part of a larger group of 19, who were arrested in connection with the attacks.

One of them, Goolam Mohammed Rashid Haffejee, was released on R100 000 bail last week. The charges against the seven remaining men were provisionally withdrawn after the court heard that they were not pointed out during an identification parade.

READ: Mosque attack: 7 go free

According to their affidavits, most of the accused were arrested on Friday, October 5, while praying.

They said that they received a message saying that the inauguration of a new prayer facility would be held that Friday and they attended the event. While in the middle of prayers "police officials just barged in and interrupted" them.

Seventeen out of the 19 people who were initially arrested were at the mosque at the time. 

Cellphone movement 

They were all later taken to Durban Central police station where they were charged and asked to make statements.

The eleven remaining accused denied any knowledge of the device that was recovered during their arrest.

According to their affidavits, a warrant of arrest was issued on October 4 for businessman Farhad Hoomer, who is accused one in the matter. But police "waited until Friday" on prayer day to make the arrest.

Hoomer, who is accused of the fatal Verulam mosque attack, said he was only a suspect in the attack because of his late wife's cellphone movement.

He said Colonel Johannes Vreugdenburg, who is overseeing the entire investigation in the matter, found that it moved from the tower at La Mercy Hotel at 13:29 to Palmview tower between 14:31 and 14:35, and then back to the La Mercy Hotel tower at 14:46 on the day of the attack.

The Palmview tower is one of the cellphone towers that services the area where the Verulam mosque is situated, according to Hoomer's affidavit. He said Vreugdenburg suspected that he was involved in the attack only because of the cellphone movement.

He also pointed out that the State did not oppose bail for Haffejee, who is accused three and who has also been charged in connection with the mosque attack, because he was not pointed out during an identification parade. 

He said he was also not pointed out during the identification parade in relation to counts connected to the mosque attack.

"This honourable court can clearly conclude from the above that the cellphone linkage is inadequate on its own to refuse bail," said Hoomer.

DNA samples 

Hoomer denied that he was involved in the placement of explosive devices at Woolworths stores.

"Vreugdenburg makes it clear in his affidavit that African males were involved," he said.

Hoomer however, said he was only pointed out by the complainant in the kidnapping charge.

Hoomer owns four businesses which have a turnover of R5m per month, according to his affidavit.

He said the nature of his businesses was such that they could not be managed or operated in his absence.

He claimed that the State's case against him was weak.

Magistrate Khalil warned the accused that their affidavits could be used as evidence against them at their trial and that it was a criminal offence to give incorrect information. 

Prosecutor Adele Barnard said all of the remaining accused had consented to giving samples of their DNA.

She said the State would present its case on Tuesday.

The accused face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and the violation of Pocdatara (The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act).

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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