'Huge blow' to family of murdered KZN mosque victim after 'Isis-linked' accused walk
The family of Shaheed Abbas Essop, who was gruesomely murdered in an attack at a mosque outside Durban, have been left distraught after the 12 accused of being behind Essop's murder walked free on Monday.
The Verulam mechanic’s throat was slit during an attack by knife-wielding men at the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam, north of Durban, in May 2018.
The man accused of orchestrating the attack, Farhad Hoomer, who was arrested in October 2018 together with 11 others, appeared in the Verulam family court on Monday, where the matter was struck off the roll as magistrate Irfaan Khalil cited unreasonable delays due to the matter being on the court roll for almost two years.
Hoomer, a wealthy Durban businessman, is also accused of being behind multiple firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed.
The men were also accused of being aligned to the terror group Islamic State (Isis).
Chairperson and founder of the Imam Hussain Mosque and spokesperson for the Essop family, Azad Seedat, said the premature release of the accused was a huge blow for the family.
"They are disappointed with the decision of the magistrate to withdraw the case, but are confident the suspects will be brought to justice once the case is reinstated. They can enjoy their short-lived freedom."
He said what the attackers did on the day of Essop's murder was a ghastly deed.
"They not only attacked the mosque, they attacked all the citizens of South Africa, they attacked the foundation of South Africa and the constitution."
He claimed the state had sufficient evidence to charge the accused with the mosque attack alone as cellphone records had put them at the scene of the crime.
Essop's brother, Farouk, previously told Times Select that his family were still trying to come to terms with the death of his brother.
“I don’t think there is a day that’s gone by when we don’t speak about it. His death hasn’t only impacted the immediate family but even extended family, friends, the community and family from abroad. It split apart our whole family altogether."
Provincial National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Kara said the matter is being closely monitored and worked on together by the police and the prosecutors of the organised crime office of the NPA. Investigations will continue.