Home South African #MosqueAttack Hawks probe gruesome attack

#MosqueAttack Hawks probe gruesome attack

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Abbas Essop, who lived near the mosque and who rushed to help when the commotion broke out died shortly after arriving at hospital.

The Hawks have converged on the Imam Husain Mosque in Ottawa on Friday and began questioning witnesses to Thursday's gruesome knife attack that left one man dead and two injured. Picture Zainul Dawood

Durban – Detectives for the Directorate For Priority Crime Investigation – the Hawks – converged on the Imam Husain Mosque in Ottawa on Friday and began questioning witnesses to Thursday’s gruesome knife attack that left one man dead and two injured.

About eight detectives were seen entering the mosque on Friday while a police forensic team combed the exterior and interior of the mosque for clues.

This after three knifemen attacked the Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa Verulam on Thursday knifing three people including the Moulana before setting the mosque alight and fleeing.

Ali Nchinyane, 28, who led the mosque in prayer was stabbed on his shoulders. He had jumped from the first floor of the mosque to escape his attackers. He was discharged from hospital late on Thursday.

Abbas Essop, who lived near the mosque and who rushed to help when the commotion broke out died shortly after arriving at hospital.

His throat was slit. 

Essop, a father of two children, is believed to have rushed to the mosque after receiving a call by Nchinyane asking for help because he was being attacked. 

His funeral will take place on Friday afternoon. 

Mohamed Ali, 28, who delivered the call for prayer and was the caretaker of the mosque had his stomach slit open. He is recovering in hospital.
The motive for the attack is unknown.

While social media was rife on the on the nationality and motive behind the attacks the Hawks have urged caution.

Simphiwe Mhlongo, Hawks spokesperson said the nationality of the suspects was unknown and people should refrain from making assumptions that could create panic in the country.

“Only when we arrest the suspects will we know who they are. If anyone knows their whereabouts they should call the police immediately,” he said. 

Ali Shanshah, former chairman of the mosque said eyewitnesses saw three men fleeing from the mosque and getting into a white Hyundai Getz. He said the men were attacked by people known to them. 

“This is not an act of terrorism. People are making assumptions that they were from a certain country. We cannot confirm this. The victims are all South Africans,” Shanshah said.

Shanil Gopal, who lives next door to the mosque, said they often washed pots and pans at the back of the mosque near his property and the kids played on the premises. 

So when there were screams from the mosque his family did not take it seriously. 

“When I did come out I saw Nchinyane stuck on the top of the wall between the electrical fencing. He was screaming in pain. We were shocked. Essop I presume ran into the mosque to help but he was also attacked. This is a tranquil area. Essop was a good friend to everyone,” Gopal said. 

Essop lived in a house on the street behind the mosque. He also owned A.B.S Motors opposite the mosque on the Old Main Road. 

Azad Seedat, chairperson and founder of the mosque said he was shocked by the events that unfolded. 

Seedat said it could have been a sectarian attack. 

“There are some people that are creating factions in the Muslim community. They speak out that they don’t like this and that group. We are followers of Imam Husain,” he said. 

“The gates have remote control access. It is a safety feature. One of the attackers pressed the intercom button and greeted the Moulana Nchinyane. The gate was then opened. When the attackers were inside they drew knives and attacked whoever was inside the mosque. Nchinyane phoned me for help but as fate would have it, his battery was low. He climbed out of the window and jumped down,” Seedat said. 

He called upon the community to help the police with their investigation.

“It could your husband, brother or son. Bring them forward to the police so that we can get to the bottom of this,” Seedat said. 

Abdul Vally Mohamed, Grey Street Mosque chairperson, urged the Muslim community to remain calm and let the authorities investigate. 

Mohamed said Islam was a religion of peace and people were blowing the incident out of proportion. 

He said the matter would be discussed at all mosques in KZN on Friday.

“We never had such incidents and believe it was an act of criminality,” Mohamed said. 

Daily News