12 accused walk free as Verulam mosque bombing case struck from roll

Members of the Hawks at the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam, outside Durban, after police found an explosive device at the mosque.
Members of the Hawks at the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam, outside Durban, after police found an explosive device at the mosque.
Kerushun Pillay, News24
  • The case against 12 men accused of carrying out various terror attacks in the Durban area in 2018 has been struck from the court roll. 
  • The State's application for another postponement for further investigation was denied. 
  • The National Prosecuting Authority said the investigations would continue. 

The Verulam Magistrate's Court on Monday struck off the roll the case against Farhad Hoomer and 11 others who had been accused of terror attacks in the Durban area in May and October 2018.

In October 2018, police initially arrested 19 people on charges relating to the planting of a number of incendiary devices at various locations in and around Durban over the course of several months as well as the fatal knife attack in May of that year at the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam which claimed the life of Abbas Essop, News24 reported.

The police swooped on them in a series of raids during which a Tanzanian man was also found chained in what they described as a dungeon in a Reservoir Hills property belonging to Hoomer. It's believed the Tanzanian man was being held ransom.

Extremist literature was also found during the raids.

The accused were initially facing seven charges relating to 11 incidents. Charges against seven of the men were dropped early on in proceedings because they weren't positively identified during an identity parade.

READ | 19 suspects to appear in court for KZN mosque attack, bomb scares - Hawks

On Monday, KwaZulu-Natal National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Kara said the State had brought a postponement application for further investigations as there were several outstanding aspects of investigation.

"This includes voluminous downloads and cellphone analysis. At the time when the accused were arrested, there was a large number of cellphones recovered, which has resulted in the extensive investigation," Kara said.

Postponement to finalise investigation

The State presented an argument for postponement in order to finalise the investigation. A trial could not proceed without this investigation being completed as a matter of this nature requires extensive investigation.

Kara said a prosecutor has a duty to ensure all necessary evidence required to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt be obtained before setting the matter for trial.

"There have been numerous engagements between the investigators and prosecution in this matter. Senior Magistrate Irfaan Khalil declined the State's application and struck the matter off the court roll, citing unreasonable delays as he found the matter had been on the court roll for almost two years.

"He also stated that the prejudice to the accused was that they were ostracised in society."

'Jubilant celebration'

The court further ruled that once the investigation is completed the State will have to obtain the authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal to reinstate a prosecution against the accused in this matter.

"The matter is being closely monitored and worked on together by the SAPS and the prosecutors of the Organised Crime Office of the NPA. Investigations will continue," Kara added.

TimesLIVE reported that Hoomer, Ahmed Haffejee‚ Goolam Haffejee‚ Thabit Mwenda‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ Ndikumana Shabani and Iddy Omari celebrated jubilantly moments after their case was struck from the roll.

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