Cape Town mosque attack: Killer 'was a stranger who asked for refuge'

14 June 2018 - 09:05 By Esa Alexander‚ Andre Jurgens And Dave Chambers
Malmesbury Masjied in Cape Town where a man stabbed two men to death.
Malmesbury Masjied in Cape Town where a man stabbed two men to death.
Image: Esa Alexander

A man who killed two men in a mosque near Cape Town was a stranger who had asked for refuge‚ TimesLIVE was told on Thursday.

Imhraan Mukaddam‚ who said one of the victims of the attack was married to his cousin‚ said the knifeman arrived at the mosque on Wednesday night and asked if he could join the i’tikaaf night prayers‚ which are held over the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Speaking outside the mosque‚ Mukaddam said his relative was killed in his sleep when the man cut his throat. Police said another man was killed and several injured before officers arrived and shot the man dead.

As dawn broke‚ and with rain pouring‚ his body could be seen lying in an open field about 400m from the mosque‚ in Nerina Avenue‚ just off the road to Darling.

Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato arrived at the mosque around 8.30am to meet officials.

There was no initial indication that the incident was linked to an attack on a mosque in Verulam‚ north of Durban‚ in May. One man was killed and two others were critically injured in the Verulam attack‚ in which three men stormed the building shortly after afternoon prayers.

At least two people were stabbed to death and others injured in a “brutal” attack at a mosque in Cape Town in the early hours of Thursday morning.

But Mukaddam said it was tragic that “we started Ramadan with the atrocity in Durban and we’re ending it with a tragedy in the same note”.

He added: “I appeal to communities to work together for peace‚ and let’s not import these foreign concepts into our Islam. Islam in South Africa has been here for 300 years‚ and we’ve never had this kind of situation where we attack each other‚ especially in the mosque and not on the basis of politically and religiously inspired agendas that have nothing to do with us.”

Numerous reports suggested that the attacker was Somalian‚ but there was no official confirmation.

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said in a statement on its Facebook page that it was “shocked to its core to learn of a brutal attack on the Malmesbury Masjied in Cape Town in the early hours of this morning”.

It added: “We can confirm that two people have been killed whilst in I’tikaaf and another regular musallee of the Masjied injured.

“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 president and his deputies were on their way to the mosque to gather more information.

“Provincial detectives are currently combing a crime scene for clues following the death of two people at a mosque in Malmesbury during the early hours of this morning‚” said police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut.

“Malmesbury police were called out to a local mosque and found two people stabbed to death and several injured. The suspect‚ believed to be in his thirties and armed with a knife was still on the scene and charged at the police who tried to persuade him to hand himself over. He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process. His death will be investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.”

On the MJC’s Facebook page‚ several commenters called for calm.

Mumin Taaq said: “Enemies of Islam can only benefit from this.”

Azad Khan said: “Just want to make a plea to all our Muslims not to speculate as to who perpetrated this evil deed in the Malmesbury masjid and why. In times like these we must stand united in our condemnation of horrible acts such as this and not be divided along sectarian lines. We have always lived in peace and harmony with our fellow countrymen irrespective of their faith or ideology.”

Carel Hauptfleisch said: “We Christians are sad and grieve with you. This is terrible.”

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