‘It was like a slaughterhouse’

Witness describes horrific scene after knife attack on three men at mosque

Three men were brutally attacked at a Verulam mosque on Thursday
Three men were brutally attacked at a Verulam mosque on Thursday
Image: Reaction Unit SA

A man who arrived at the scene of a bloody mosque attack in Verulam‚ north of Durban‚ likened the scene to that of a slaughterhouse.

One man was killed and two others were critically injured in yesterday’s attack‚ which saw three men storm the building shortly after afternoon prayers.

The witness‚ who arrived at the Imam Hussain Mosque in Ottawa‚ Verulam‚ shortly after 2.30pm, just a few minutes after the knife attack‚ said that what he was confronted with had been horrific.

“The mosque [and the area in front of the building] looked like a slaughterhouse – there was so much blood on the floor‚” he said.

The man‚ who did not want to be named‚ said he had arrived to find one of the wounded men lying on the floor.

“His neck was open – I can’t tell you how traumatic that was. I even saw one paramedic there go weak.

“The whole place was on fire‚ but obviously at the time we were more concerned about the people who were hurt.

“Two of them were rushed away but one was still being seen to by paramedics.”

IPSS Medical Rescue’s Paul Herbst said: “IPSS can now confirm that the person with the slit throat unfortunately has passed away in hospital.”

The dead man was expected to be buried last night in line with Islamic custom.

Image: Reaction Unit SA

Police were yesterday trying to piece together what prompted the attack.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala said a search was under way for the three attackers.

“They allegedly attacked three people and stabbed them,” he said.

“They further set certain rooms alight and fled in their vehicle.

“The victims were taken to hospital for medical attention.

“The motive for the attack on the three men is unknown at this stage.”

Verulam police are investigating charges of murder and attempted murder as well as arson.

Private security company Reaction Unit South Africa’s Prem Balram said: “Upon arrival‚ Reaction Unit officers found that two victims had their throats slit and were bleeding profusely.

“Paramedics were called to the scene to attend to the critically injured men.

“Reaction Unit officers then noticed smoke emanating from the mosque and attempted to douse the flames.”

A third victim was found inside the building.

He was bleeding from a wound to his throat. Balram said witnesses had told officers that three assailants‚ who were armed with knives and guns‚ had attacked the mosque‚ slitting the victims’ throats and then setting fire to the building.

“The suspects, who were wearing half balaclavas, fled in a white Hyundai light motor vehicle with no registration plates‚” he said.