Hawks take over KZN mosque attack investigation

The Hawks outside the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam that was the scene of a brutal attack last night.
Verulam mosque The Hawks outside the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam that was the scene of a brutal attack last night.
Image: Jackie Clausen

The Hawks have taken over the investigation into a mosque attack in Verulam‚ just north of Durban‚ which claimed the life of a man and left two others injured on Thursday.

Three knife-wielding men had stormed the Imam Hussain mosque in Ottawa‚ Verulam‚ after midday prayers – targeting the imam and two others.

One of the men had his throat slit and died shortly after arriving at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital.

An eyewitness who arrived at the scene shortly after the knife attack said the parking lot looked like a slaughterhouse.

Police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said that a docket had been registered at the Verulam police station but that Hawks investigators would on Friday take over the investigation.

A manhunt was launched in the wake of the attack‚ after the three knife-men fled in a car. Gwala said that no arrests had yet been made.

Repeated efforts to contact Hawks spokesman Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo were unsuccessful at the time of publishing.

Chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on police Francois Beukman said the alleged attack was shocking and that the South African Police Service should prioritise the investigation.

“A mosque is a religious institution‚ and South Africa’s constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices. This kind of attack on three innocent people is totally unjustified. We want our communities to live in harmony‚ practising their religions without fear‚” he said.

Beukman said everything should be done to arrest the perpetrators‚ and called on anyone with information to contact law enforcement agencies.

The Muslim Judicial Council has also strongly condemned Thursday’s attack. In a statement‚ the council reiterated that a core teaching of Islam was “respect for all human beings”.

“We remind South Africans that the makeup of our society is one of religious‚ cultural and ethnic diversity and tolerance‚” the statement read. “We call on all communities to remain law-abiding citizens and refrain from any and all forms of vigilantism.”

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