A recent hijacking at the Waterloo Road Mosque in Kenwyn has raised deep security concerns for musallees who attend Taraweeh in Ramadan. Residents were left shocked this week after hijackers seen disguised in religious garb targeted a musallee who had left the masjid to attend to an emergency. The victim of the hijacking, Ayyoob Dadabhai, related what had happened:
“I came out of the masjid, and as I walked towards my car, there were two men behind me that had thawbs and kufiyyas on. I greeted them. And as I got into my car, the man on the left hand side opened the passenger’s side door, jumped into the car and put a gun to my head. His partner opened my door, got into the car and tried to rough me up, demanding that I give what I had on me including my car keys. I did, and they drove off,” he told VOC In the Fast lane on Friday.
Not long after, one of the hijackers was caught by the Kenwyn Neighbourhood Watch. The police then arrived on the scene, and Dadabhai’s car was located.
Dadabhai explains what happened after the hijacking.
“I’m on the Kenwyn Neighbourhood Watch. When the hijackers took my cellphone, an application on my phone that the neighbourhood watch uses to communicate with each other, was still open. The application works in such a way that when you’re in the car it plays what the neighbourhood watch is saying through the radio. When I ran back to the masjid to get assistance, we phoned the neighbourhood guys, and the hijackers could hear everything we were saying. So I think they panicked and left the car in Kenwyn, they took off their thawbs and kufiyyas and decided to walk towards Wetton, where they were spotted.”
Dadabhai also said that neighbourhood watches from other areas also got involved and helped retrieve his car and locate the hijackers.Whilst the numbers of people frequenting the masjid might increase significantly during the month of Ramadan, the recent attempted hijacking in Kenwyn and surrounding areas of the Cape Flats has sparked concerns about the safety risk for mosque goers attending Taraweeh prayers during the holy month.
Hanif Loonat, a crime fighter from Kenwyn, commented on the incident.
“Criminals have becoming innovative. There was a time when they would only take badges off cars, and then they moved to tyres or batteries from cars. Now, they’ve started hijacking musallees from the masjid.”
He also shared advice for the security of mosque-goers.
“My advice to those who come to masjid is to leave in groups, and to avoid sticking around chatting outside the masjid after salah has ended. The reason is that there are guys lurking waiting for an opportunity to pounce on these individuals,”said Loonat.
“The Masjid is responsible for the musallees, this is a vulnerable time of the year. People want to be as close to Allah as possible, and it’s often difficult for people to very conscious when coming to mosque due to the short time between iftar and Taraweeh.”
Community members are now more wary of the threats that lurk at the mosques and have been urged by community organizations including the MJC to be conscious of their surroundings. VOC