The family of 74 year old Ismail Bassa who was killed at the Malmesbury masjid on Thursday morning say they are devastated by his death, but know that he has died a shaheed (martyr). Ismail was sleeping inside the mosque during itikaaf when an assailant attacked him along with two other people. It’s believed that Ismail fought back, but the suspect stabbed him in the arm and face. He died on the scene. His son’s Suad Bassa, 30, and Faizel, 24 was also injured in the attack. The suspect, said to be a Somalian national, was chased by police, who fatally shot him. The second victim is also believed to be a Somalian national.
The victim’s wife Zainab Bassa, says she was woken up by other musallees who were in itikaaf who had arrived at their home asking for help. She thought that it was her husband coming home for suhoor. She woke her children, who went to the masjid to assist and when arriving there she questioned where her husband was.
“The masjid was his second home, whenever you look for him his in the masjid,” she said calmly, adding that Ismail had spent the last ten days in itikaaf.
Zainab said the attacker was unknown to the community. They believe he was a backpacker passing through the town. Musallees noticed the suspect man had very red eyes and had displayed strange behaviour prior to the attack. Some believe the man may have had a mental illness, however this could not be confirmed.If the body is released following the post-mortum today, Ismail Bassa will be laid to rest at 4pm. Ismail is originally from Durban. His family were been informed and are enroute to Cape Town.
Bassa’s cousin-in-law community activist Imraahn Mukaddam said Zainab is rest assured knowing her husband died in his sleep while in itikaaf.
“Allah has given him an honourable death. It was an honour to have been related to him,” he said.
“His last words was to his family after taraweeh salah was that he cannot go home that evening, as he wants to go to Jannah,” said Mukaddam.
Mukaddam said he was concerned that this incident took place shortly after the attack at the Verulam masjid in Kwa Zulu Natal, in which two musallees were killed. The suspects are still at large and the Hawks have not disclosed any information regarding the attack.
Mukaddam said that he has been directly affected by what he was been fighting to prevent for the past few weeks – growing intolerance and discord in the Muslim community.
“The division, hatred and sectarianism in the community, really comes home to why we need to implement the Cape Accord [a document calling for peace and tolerance in the Muslim community]. We need to question how as a community do we reject calls for peace and tolerance. With the Cape Accord we were mourning the aftermath of the Verulam Masjid attack. We started our Ramadan with this ugly incident and now unfortunately we need to end on an ugly note,” he stressed.
But Mukkadam said he would not rule out the possibility of a third force present behind these attacks.
“We are calling for calm and we don’t want anyone to destroy the rich peaceful history we have in South Africa. The strange thing was when one of the Somalian residents spoke to the attacker; he was unable to respond to them in the local language. He basically told them he came from Belleville and was on his way to Edenberg, and needed a place to stay overnight,” explained Mukaddam.
“We don’t want to speculate but it clearly was a planned attack”. VOC