Cops lock family out of court
Ppolice, acting without an court order , barred the family of a murdered Gauteng businessmen from the courtroom in which their son's alleged killers were appearing yesterday.
The appearance of the two men was kept secret and the police locked the door of Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court's court A when Mohammed Fazaar Kazi's family tried to enter.
The suspects appeared after the murdered man's family and friends, along with journalists, waited for hours in another court where they were told the men would appear.
Kazi was beaten to death in an what is believed to have been an Islamaphobic attack on Monday last week while buying food at a Chicken Licken in Magaliesburg.
Kazi, 27, and his business partner, Anser Mahmood, had stopped to break their Ramadan fast when they were attacked - allegedly by two white Afrikaners.
Emotions ran high yesterday when bereaved relatives discovered that the men were appearing in another courtroom.
Relatives tried to force their way into the courtroom but the police held firm and kept the door locked .
Krugersdorp resident Fadheelah Patel, 49, said the attack was not isolated.
"The majority of those behind these attacks are white, Afrikaans men. They prey on us. They humiliate us, jeer at us and target us when we are with our children," she said.
Patel, making an impassioned plea for all South Africans to stand up against such attacks, said: "Just because I wear a hijab [veil] does not mean I am not human like you. My heart might be covered but I am not heartless. We are all human. We are peace-loving people like you."
Mahmood, with bruises still clearly visible on his face, broke down in tears outside the courtroom as he pleaded for justice.
"Mohammed was more than a brother. He was everything to me. He did not deserve to die like this. They beat us to kill us and I want justice," he said.
Family spokesman Zahid Asmal said the family was furious at being denied access to the court.
"This is not what we were expecting. This is a public court. The appearance was done in secret. Something is very wrong," he said.
"We are demanding an explanation about why we were barred from court."
Iqbal Jassat, executive director of Media Review Network, which works to dispel stereotypes about Islam and Muslims, said he was concerned about the actions of the police.
"We were told no one was allowed in because an identity parade still has to be held and due process must be followed, but no one has said what this 'due process' is.
"We respect the law, but we expect to be treated with dignity.
"The family has rights and they must be respected. We are demanding answers," Jassat said.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale could not say why Kazi's family and friends were barred from the court.
"An identity parade is to be held this week so no photographers were allowed in court.
"There were fears that members of the public would take pictures with their cellphones so they were stopped from going inside," Mogale said.
"The accused were remanded in custody and will appear in court again on Tuesday [today]."
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Phindi Louw said investigations were still under way and the public was barred from the courtroom to protect evidence which still had to been collected.
"It was done to ensure nothing hinders the investigation."