Celebration as 'Isis-linked' Verulam bombing case struck off the roll
It was high fives, big smiles and tight hugs in the Verulam magistrate's court on Monday when the matter against 12 men accused of terrorist-related activities which rocked Durban in 2018 was struck off the roll.
Farhad Hoomer, Ahmed Haffejee‚ Goolam Haffejee‚ Thabit Mwenda‚ Mohamad Akbar‚ Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ Ndikumana Shabani and Iddy Omari celebrated jubilantly moments after their formal appearance in court.
It's been a year and nine months since the accused made their first appearance after they were arrested in a co-ordinated Hawks raid on October 5 2018.
JUST IN: The case against Durban’s 12 terror accused men has been struck off the roll. The men appeared in court today. The matter was struck off the roll as the state had asked for a further postponement. The case has been ongoing for the last 1 year and 9 months. @etvNewsSA pic.twitter.com/JCgqtVAs2W— Nabeelah Shaikh (@Nabeelah_Shaikh) July 13, 2020
They faced a raft of charges related to alleged terrorist activities in connection with firebomb incidents at Woolworths stores and at the Durban July horse racing event that same year.
The men also faced various other charges‚ including murder‚ attempted murder‚ arson and extortion. They were accused of being aligned to terror group Islamic State, with Hoomer allegedly orchestrating the Imam Hussain Mosque attack in May 2018 which resulted in the death of Verulam mechanic Abbas Essop.
Magistrate Irfaan Khalil ruled in favour of the accused on Monday when he struck the matter off the roll and noted that it could not be reinstated without a directive from the director of public prosecutions (DPP) in KwaZulu-Natal.
His decision was made in respect of the accused being prejudiced, after a series of adjournments by the state which failed to provide substantive evidence in the matter.
In July last year the state informed the court that investigators had a mammoth task of wading through five terabytes of data from 216 devices seized from the men. An affidavit deposed in court made by a digital forensic examiner for the Hawks, warrant officer Sunette Potgieter, highlighted that data would equate to 95,780 volumes of 2,000 double sided pages when printed.
Senior state prosecutor Mahen Naidu told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that despite the matter being struck off the roll, the state had every intention to proceed with its investigations.
“We already have all this information. As much as the court wouldn't accept that Covid-19 affected the police and hampered investigations, it did. We will finalise our investigations and approach the DPP to get the authority to prosecute and to place the matter back on the roll,” said Naidu.
Hoomer could not immediately be reached for comment.