Four suspects arrested at the weekend in the Johannesburg suburbs of Newclare and Azaadville on suspicion of terrorism will appear in court on Monday. Two of the suspects were arrested in line with the Terrorism Act on suspicion of ISIL links.
The Hawks swooped on the suburbs yesterday seizing several items for analysis including computers and other equipment. It’s understood the suspects were identified after planning to fly to Syria last year.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi says the arrests follows an investigation into terrorist activities in the country.
“We have four people that have been arrested. It follows an investigation that kick-started in 2015 where we believe there are people who are actually engaging themselves in alleged terrorism activities, something that we believe to be done due to the fact the we felt this is a serious threat to our country and the people that lives in it,” he said.
The attorney representing two of the suspects, Yousha Tayob confirmed that the warrants of arrest made for two of the suspects, who are aged 20 and 24, mentions possible links to ISIS and was issued in terms of legislation referencing constitutional democracy and terror related acts.
Contrary to numerous media reports, he says that the two individuals who he is representing have not been arrested in terms of the Terrorism Act, but were instead arrested in line with the Explosives Act.
He said that the raid showed evidence of prejudice and encouraged South African Muslims to be “responsible.”
“The nature of the raids is somewhat worrisome, since many years ago we provided the state with extensive information about South African Jews who regularly travel to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defence Force; they have done nothing about that,” he told VOC on Monday.
While media reports state two individuals had intentions to travel to Syria, Tayob asserts that the families have indicated that they had no such intentions, describing them as “committed South Africans.”
“These allegations of wanting to go to Syria may well be from other families, but certainly not from the Patel and Ravi homes. They are not concerned about what may or may not be found on their cell-phones and laptops, because they say there is nothing untoward on them.”
Amongst the seized items, Tayob confirmed police seized anti-Shia and pro-Palestinian literature, matric books, Tawees (prayer amulets), and security glass.
“In the interviews they were asked if they intended to travel to Syria by policemen who don’t understand Islam at all,” Tayob said in light of the items that were confiscated.
He further noted that the United States have issued terror alerts within South Africa in order to pressurise the country into following their stringent security measures.
“Our right to support Muslim causes can never be interfered with. We must ensure that we hold on to the freedoms that we have and open it up as far as is allowed in our constitution by the standards of Quran and hadith,” he continued.
Tayob explains that he is now focussing on securing bail for his clients.
All suspects are scheduled to appear in caught on Monday; two of the suspects are to appear at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on terrorism-related charges, while the other two will appear at Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on firearms and explosives-related charges.