From the news desk

Muslim Judicial Council welcomes arrest of three suspects involved in Verulam Mosque attack

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has welcomed the arrests of three suspects in Durban, in connection with an attack on a mosque in Verulam that left one dead and three others critically injured.

It is alleged that three suspects attacked Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa on 10 May, slitting the throats of two victims while critically injuring another. One of the victims was the imam of the mosque and was treated by paramedics on the scene before being transferred to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The suspects then allegedly proceeded to set the building alight by throwing a petrol bomb into the building, before fleeing the scene.

The attack came days before the start of the holy month of Ramadaan and left the Muslim community in shock, after a video of the aftermath emerged showing victims covered in blood while paramedics and officials attended to the scene.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said at the time that the suspects “allegedly attacked three people and stabbed them (and) further set certain rooms alight and fled in their getaway vehicle.’’

Authorities had kept mum on any details of the investigation, but finally there was a breakthrough on Friday in the murder. Verulam police are investigating three counts of attempted murder and arson.

The Muslim Judicial Council said in a statement released on Friday, that the Muslim community has been on edge since the incident as it seemed authorities were not making headway in their investigation. The MJC applauded the arrest of the suspects.

“With these arrests, we are thankful to SAPS, the HAWKS, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and all other role players who painstakingly investigated this case and subsequently arrested the alleged perpetrators.”

The MJC has further called on the community to respect the rule of law and allow justice to take its course.

“We are confident that the alleged perpetrators, if found guilty, will face the full extent and might of the law,” the statement reads.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said the suspects are also believed to have links to several bomb scares throughout KwaZulu-Natal in recent months, involving incendiary devices planted in various malls.

Cele announced the trio’s arrests at a press conference on Friday, saying more arrests are expected to follow. He adds that the suspects are likely to face charges of murder, contravention of the Explosive Act and arson, among others. The suspects are expected to appear in court next week.

In a separate incident a month later, two worshippers were stabbed to death and two were left injured at a mosque in Malmesbury, Cape Town, by an attacker who was shot dead by police.

[VOC Tauhierah Salie]
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