Mosque attack: 7 go free

2018-10-16 15:55
A group of friends and family of those who were attacked at the Verulam mosque demonstrate outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

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

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The state has provisionally withdrawn charges against seven of the 19 men arrested in connection with a mosque attack in Verulam, outside Durban, earlier this year.

One accused, Goolam Mohammed Rashid Haffejee, was granted R100 000 bail during a bail application at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The large group were arrested two weeks ago and face a raft of charges including murder, kidnapping, and contravening the Terrorism Act.

A large police presence was in court during the proceedings, and only investigators, police, attorneys and media were allowed in the gallery.

The charges relate to an incident in May when unknown men stormed the Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa, Verulam, north of Durban.

Abbas Essop died during the attack at the Shia mosque, while Imam Ali Nchiyane and caretaker Mohammed Ali survived.

In that incident, part of the mosque was set alight. An explosive device was then found there a few days later.

The group are also linked to explosive devices found at various Woolworths outlets in Durban.

State advocate Adele Barnard told the court that the state provisionally withdrew charges against the seven accused because they were not positively identified by witnesses during an identity parade last week.

Barnard noted, however, that the state still sought to have DNA tests done to link people to explosive devices that were recovered, so charges may yet be reinstated.

Barnard informed the court that the state did not oppose bail for Haffejee as he was also not positively identified at the identity parade.

Haffejee’s defence advocate, J. Wolmarans, said he had no previous convictions and no pending cases.

Haffejee is a father of four and the sole breadwinner, Wolmarans told the court.

Magistrate M. Khalil said there was “limited” evidence against Haffajee at this stage, and was satisfied he could be granted bail.

As one of his bail conditions, he has to obtain written permission to leave KwaZulu-Natal, and hand in all travel documents to the state.

Khalil adjourned the matter to next Monday for a bail application for the remaining 11 accused.

They are Farhhad Hoomer, Ahmad Haffejee, Thabit Said Mwenda, Mohammed Akbar, Mohammed Seidth, Amani Mayan, Abubakar Ali, Abasi Juma, Muhammed Adil Sobrun, Omar Iddy, and Ndikumana Shabani Umande.

The case thus far has been characterised by its sensitive nature, and press were only allowed in court on Monday after the 19 had made two previous appearances in court.

After a lengthy deliberation among investigators, the state, and defence attorneys, the proceedings finally started at 2 pm on Monday.

Earlier in the day supporters of victims of the attack at the mosque had staged a small demonstration outside the court, brandishing placards calling for the accused to be refused bail.

As a police vehicle transporting the accused passed the court, both accused and the protesters could be heard jeering at each other.

Mohammed Karrim, a close friend of Abbas Essop who was murdered during the attack on the mosque, said his friends and family are still in mourning.

“He was a family-friendly man and he was killed by cowards.

“But this incident has strengthened our community and we see him as a hero. It has also created awareness that things like this can happen,” he told The Witness.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  verulam mosque attack

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