Abbas Essop’s father Muhammad Ali Essop is flanked by sons Farouk (left) and Jaffar Essop at the auditorium named in honour of the hero.
Image: Supplied

Five months to the day after Verulam mechanic Abbas Essop was killed by knife-wielding men at the Imam Hussain Mosque‚ an auditorium has been renamed in his honour to celebrate his martyrdom.

The father of two had charged into the building on May 11‚ after hearing the screams of Ali Nchiyane‚ the imam of the mosque.

Muhammad Ali‚ the caretaker and muezzin‚ the one who calls to prayer‚ had seen the men at the gate and‚ thinking they were coming to pray‚ let them inside.

The men stabbed Nchiyane and disembowelled Ali before setting the mosque’s library alight.

When Essop intervened‚ the attackers duct-taped his mouth and slit his throat. He died in hospital.

The mosque’s chairman‚ Azaad Seedat‚ said that an auditorium in the complex had been named after Essop for his act of selfless heroism.

“For us he will be martyr until the day of judgement. He gave his life defending this mosque and defending the lives of people here‚” he said.

His death‚ Seedat said‚ had rocked the Essop family‚ with his wife and their two daughters leaving the city and moving to Tanzania.

“Life is difficult for the family without him and she was looking for some comfort. Her family is there and that is obviously why she chose to move away. These terrorists deprived her of her husband‚” Seedat added.

He said that in the five months that had passed‚ no arrests had yet been made.

On Tuesday the police released their annual crime statistics‚ showing a nearly 7 percentage point increase in the murder rate.

On average‚ 57 people are murdered a day in South Africa.