Names, nationalities of accused in 'sensitive' Verulam mosque attack case censored

The Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)
The Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam. (Mxolisi Mngadi, News24)

The names and nationalities of the 19 people accused of the fatal KZN mosque attack, and the placement of several explosive devices at Durban shopping centres, are to remain secret for now.

The accused, who were arrested on Friday, appeared in camera (in private) in the Verulam Family Court late on Monday.

They face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and violation of Pocdatara (The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act), Hawks national spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"We would like to put it clear that the barring is not only for the media. Anybody has been barred from revealing the names of the suspects, their nationality, the places where they were arrested, and that's the order of the court," said Mulaudzi.

READ: In camera appearance for suspects in deadly KZN mosque attack

He also refused to reveal their ages.

Mulaudzi was addressing the media shortly after the accused appeared in court.

He explained that the Hawks had applied to have the media, as well as the family members of the victims and accused, barred from attending the proceedings until the investigation had been finalised.

Mulaudzi said they still needed to investigate some issues and had not concluded an identification parade.

"This is not a blanket barring of the media, but we are only asking for a few days. Once we have finalised the investigation, everyone [will] have a fair chance of following the proceedings," he said, adding that the matter was "very sensitive".

Mulaudzi confirmed that all 19 people appeared in court. He said the case was postponed to Tuesday for interpreters to be brought in to assist some of the accused who could not follow the proceedings in English.

"There were others that had very serious challenges in terms of the English language. There are other issues that the defence also raised that would hopefully be dealt with tomorrow (Tuesday)," he said.

White paper covered the court's glass doors when the accused appeared. Heavily armed policemen were seen guarding corridors near the courtroom while some stood outside court.

Various items were confiscated during their arrests, including a ready-made incendiary device.

Mulaudzi also commented on allegations that someone had been found chained and malnourished inside a dungeon in one of the houses where the accused were arrested.

He said the person was recuperating well at a Durban hospital, but did not give further details for "security reasons".

In May this year, three knife-wielding men attacked worshippers at 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.

Azad Seedat, the mosque's chairperson, said the mosque's library had been petrol-bombed during the attack.

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