South Africa

Western Cape mosque attack leaves three dead

By Rebecca Davis 14 June 2018
Archive Photo: Police officers stand outside the Imam Hussain Mosque where three members of the clergy where attacked with knives, hours earlier, in Durban, South Africa, 10 May 2018. EPA-EFE/STR

Western Cape police have confirmed three deaths following an attack at a mosque in Malmesbury, outside Cape Town, in the early hours of Thursday morning. Worshippers appear to have been set upon by a man with a knife who was subsequently shot to death by police. The attack comes just over a month after an attack on a mosque in KwaZulu-Natal saw one man’s throat slit and two others left badly wounded.

A Thursday morning attack on a Malmesbury mosque has been confirmed by both police and Muslim authorities, with the death toll currently understood to be at three people.

Provincial detectives are currently combing the scene for clues following the stabbing to death of two people at a mosque in Malmesbury,” the South African Police Service tweeted early on Thursday.

Suspect armed with a knife fatally shot by police. IPID (the Independent Police Investigative Directorate) at the scene.”

The involvement of IPID is required whenever a suspect is killed by police, as appears to have happened in this case.

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has released a statement declaring itself “shocked to its core” by the “brutal attack on the Malmesbury Masjied (outside) Cape Town in the early hours of this morning”.

The MJC said that the attack took place while worshippers were engaged in tikaaf: a period of intense prayer undertaken towards the end of Ramadan where believers stay secluded within the mosque.

We do not have any further details as yet but we urge the community not to jump to any conclusions until clarity can be given,” the MJC said.

WhenDaily Maverick contacted the mosque for comment, a representative said that the MJC had ordered that no comment be given to journalists for the time being.

He confirmed that the mosque in question is a Sunni mosque.

The mosque targeted for attack in Ottawa in kwaZulu-Natal on 10 May 2018 was a Shi’a mosque, giving rise to speculation that sectarian tensions could be behind that violence.

Despite the fact that the attack, near Verulam, happened over a month ago, the Hawks have made no arrests and have stayed tight-lipped about the progress of the investigation.

As Daily Maverick reported earlier this week, the absence of communication about the investigation has led to heightened tensions within the Muslim community.

Religious leaders have reported death threats and backlash following calls for greater Shi’a-Sunni understanding, while some mosques have ramped up security in fear of another attack. Those fears now appear to have been realised. DM

This is a developing story, with a full report from Daily Maverick on its way


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