Mayfair mosque worshipper was 'targeted' by gunmen - imam

23 January 2019 - 15:52 By Naledi Shange
The scene outside a mosque in Mayfair, Johannesburg, where a shooting took place on the night of January 23 2019.
The scene outside a mosque in Mayfair, Johannesburg, where a shooting took place on the night of January 23 2019.
Image: Twitter/Yusuf Abramjee

The imam of a mosque in Mayfair where an Ethiopian worshipper was shot at point-blank range says the man was specifically targeted and that the killing was unrelated to clashes between Muslim foreign nationals.

Speaking to TimesLIVE outside the mosque, imam Taahir Salloo said he believed that the well-known businessman was targeted.

"This has got nothing to do with the mosque. Camera footage which has since been taken by the police shows that the attackers had waited for him near his car and had specifically shot at him," said Salloo.

"It was a particular isolated incident," he added.

A bystander was shot in the leg.

Salloo said it appeared that a stray bullet hit the bystander as the gunmen chased the worshipper who was trying to make his way from the mosque parking lot to where other congregants were standing.

"It was around 7.10pm. He had spoken to a few people after evening prayers and then headed to his car where the two attackers were waiting," said Salloo.

"After the first shots ... he ran back towards the mosque but they ran after him and he fell down there," said Salloo, pointing to a bed of flowers where other congregants stood on Wednesday.

"When he fell, they fired about five more shots at him," he said.

Salloo described the chaos that unfolded with people running for cover inside the mosque, while others ran out of the yard.

He said Muslims gathered at the mosque each day for prayers, including Somalian and Ethiopian nationals.

"Usually I would have been worried about clashes erupting but the way the community came together after the shooting showed me that there's nothing to worry about," he said.

In the 31 years of the mosque's existence nothing like this has happened before, he added.

"The Council for Muslim Theologians has called for peace," said Salloo. He said there were no immediate plans to tighten security at the mosque.

The mosque only employs car guards to keep watch over hundreds of cars parked there each day.

The businessman, believed to be in his 40s, was married and had children. He lived near the mosque.

Asked to describe the victim, Salloo said he was a very punctual person who attended all five prayers at the mosque every day.

This, Salloo said, could have made his schedule predictable, allowing his attackers to easily trace him.

Salloo said that nothing was taken from the man after the attack.