Quality of voice samples argued in Durban bombing 'mastermind' case

Farhad Hoomer, out on R200,000 bail, is alleged to be the mastermind behind a Verulam mosque attack in May 2018, as well as a series of firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed.
Farhad Hoomer, out on R200,000 bail, is alleged to be the mastermind behind a Verulam mosque attack in May 2018, as well as a series of firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed.
Image: Jackie Clausen

A voice sample submitted by a Durban businessman accused of a series of 2018 terrorist-related firebomb attacks at a popular retail outlet came under scrutiny in the Verulam magistrate's court on Friday.

Farhad Hoomer – accused of orchestrating an attack at the Imam Hussain Mosque in May last year which resulted in the death of Verulam mechanic Abbas Essop, as well as series of bomb threats at Woolworths in 2018 –  appeared in the Verulam family court on Friday.

Hoomer had previously been ordered to supply the state with a voice sample which may implicate him in the Woolworths bombings.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Kara said while Hoomer had complied with the order, the state had found fault with the voice sample he had submitted.

“While he (Hoomer) did provide a voice sample the state found that it was insufficient and not clear enough.”

Kara said the state made a submission for another voice sample on Friday, which was denied by magistrate Irfaan Khalil.

“Khalil did, however, provide the state with more time for further investigations,” said Kara.

According to Kara, the state will now have three months to analyse the voice sample in preparation of a pretrial hearing.  

An affidavit by Col Johannes Vreugdenburg of the organised crime unit at the Hawks, submitted to the court last year, provided reasons as to why a voice sample from Hoomer was required.

Vreugdenburg’s affidavit stated that on August 7 2018, Woolworths’ financial call centre in Cape Town received calls from a person saying he had information about the bombings at their shops in Durban.

He said when Hoomer was arrested, he recognised “similarities between his voice and the digital recordings received from Woolworths”.

Hoomer, together with 11 others, was arrested during a co-ordinated Hawks raid on October 5  last year. They face various other charges‚ including murder‚ attempted murder‚ arson and extortion.

Hoomer is expected back in court on May 21.


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