Malmesbury Mosque attacker had been treated for bipolar disorder

2018-06-15 16:32

The man who killed two worshipers inside the Malmesbury mosque before he was shot dead by police is understood to have been treated for bipolar disorder previously and had no history of violence, said Amir Sheikh, chairperson of the Somali Community Board of SA.

As worshipers try to make sense of the attacks that took place on the day before the end of Ramadan, Sheikh said the man shot dead by police was a praying man who had told worshippers he was on his way to spend Eid in Saldanha Bay on the West Coast.

He identified him as Noor Abdulle Araale, known locally as Noor Turaayo.

"He has no record of being violent, or being on the wrong side of the law," said Sheikh.

His family in Modagishu, Somalia, had been informed, and his body will only be released for burial once investigators give the go-ahead.

The two people who were stabbed to death were Ismail Bassa, in his early 70s, who lived next door to the mosque, and Siyaad Hassan Hirsi, a married small merchant with 10 children.

Sheikh said he did not know whether Turaayo's illness played any part in the tragic events of Thursday morning.

According to the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, over four million South Africans have bipolar disorder, an illness that causes severe mood swings.

The investigation into the killings was escalated to the Directorate for Priority Crimes, who are treating the tragedy as a high priority sensitive matter, after an attack at a mosque in Verulam last month. There was speculation initially that it could have been related to intra-mosque disagreements, but this will form part of the police probe.

READ: Verulam mosque attack: Victim to be buried while all activities suspended

Meanwhile, there was a solemn atmosphere at Malmesburg Mosque's Eid prayers on Friday, as the close-knit Muslim community reflected on events.

"The family is still traumatised," said Ebrahim Meyer, a former mosque committee member.

However, even the men injured in the attack in the sanctity of the mosque were up and present for Eid prayers offered on Friday morning to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan, he said.

On Thursday morning at about 03:00 worshippers Bassa and Hirsi were stabbed to death inside the mosque in a surprise attack by Turaayo, who had asked to spend the night with them.

Bassa's sons Saud and Faizel were injured as they tried to fend off the attacker.

The men had been sleeping in the mosque for the 10 days of intensive prayer that leads up to the end of Ramadan, when tragedy struck. Turaayo apparently also charged at police outside and was shot dead.

READ: 'We tried to help our dad' - brothers explain how they tried to save father from Malmesbury mosque attacker

The funerals for the two victims were held at the mosque on Thursday evening in accordance with Muslim custom.

Instead of preparing for the celebration of Eid, male relatives were seen rushing back and forth in the heavy rain on Thursday to wash the bodies and wrap them in shrouds with pieces of musk tucked into the folds.

In the meantime, inside the mosque worshippers, relatives and friends sat on the floor and broke the Ramadan fast after prayers with dates and food being passed around as they waited on the carpet for the funeral.

Placed on a special grey carrier, the bodies of first Hirsi and then Bassa were carried from Tekoma street by a large group of men into the mosque for a moving series of individual Takbirs (recitations), and they were later buried.

Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) President Irafaan Abrahams called on the congregation to not brand people based on the actions of one.

To the Somalis in the congregation he said: "You are not foreigners. No, you are with us. You are part of us and we are part of you. We are part of Somalia and Somalia is part of us."

Abrahams said a meeting was planned for Monday with the MJC and Somali community leaders.

Meyer said the stabbing shocked Malmesburg's residents.

"Everybody knows everybody, and we care for each other. We could never imagine something like this would hit us."'

Read more on:    cape town  |  health  |  crime  |  religion
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