Mosque killer was out of his mind‚ says victim's son
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. Here's what we know so far.
The man who killed two men in a mosque on Thursday appeared to be “out of his mind”‚ the son of one of the victims said on Thursday.
Saud Bassa‚ 30‚ said the man arrived during the night at the mosque in Malmesbury‚ in the Western Cape‚ and asked for shelter.
Inside the mosque‚ Bassa’s 72-year-old father‚ Ismail‚ was observing i’tikaaf (night prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadaan) with two clerics and another man.
“Apparently the guy came here and he was in a different kind of state. He wasn’t drunk or anything but he was apparently out of his mind in a certain sense‚” said Saud.
“He claimed that he was just looking for shelter because he wanted to get a lift to Vredenburg the next morning.”
Saud and his brother Faizal‚ 24‚ were awoken at 2.30am by their mother Zainab‚ who heard the moulana knocking frantically on the door of their house‚ which is next to the mosque.
The cleric told Zainab the stranger had attacked the men as they slept.
“I rushed to my children’s room‚ I got them up and they phoned the cops immediately‚ and they rushed to the masjied with some heavy equipment — sticks and all that — and they tried to keep the guy inside the mosque so that he cannot escape‚” Zainab said.
Faizal said he knew he had to enter the mosque because his father was sleeping there. But the attacker had switched off the lights.
“When I went in the guy attacked me and he was attacking the moulana. I got one or two shots in but then he turned around and stabbed me in the face and in the arm‚ and when I tried to get away he stabbed me in the back‚” he said.
The man then fled the mosque‚ with the brothers in pursuit‚ and stopped in an open field about 400m away.
Saud said the man was still acting erratically‚ and he circled him with his car until the police arrived.
They appeared to be unarmed and kept their distance‚ but when a second police vehicle arrived the man attempted to attack it and officers shot him dead.
As dawn broke‚ the man’s body could be seen in the middle of a muddy field in the midst of a storm. His feet were bare and his shoes laid a few metres from him.
A sniffer dog and the bomb squad arrived to check the man for explosives‚ and a knife could be seen lying near his body.
Saud said the priests called a Somali leader to try to speak with the dying man because he could understand neither English nor Afrikaans.
After being treated in hospital‚ Faizal returned to the family home to comfort his widowed mother‚ Zainab.
The family were arranging to bury Ismail on Thursday as prescribed by the Muslim faith.
Said Saud: “My father was a very cool and calm person. He was in his 70s already and he spent most of his time in mosque‚ that’s what he loved to do. It’s pretty sad but Allah has taken him inside the place he loved the most.”
Zainab said: “I am very strong and I believe [Allah] will guide us through this difficult time.”
Moulana Abdul Khalid Allie‚ first deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council‚ said the attack had defiled the sanctity of the mosque.
“We are deeply traumatised by this incident‚” he said.
“It is a very spiritual month and it is a very significant period for the global Muslim community‚ and people at the mosque were at prayer.
“One of the most regular persons to have attended the mosque has been killed in the mosque‚ as well as a fellow person who had attended the mosque.”
Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato‚ who arrived at the mosque around 8.30am‚ said he and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille offered their deepest condolences to the families of the deceased.
“I see the incident as an isolated incident but we will watch it and we will engage with the Muslim community‚ the police and the Somali leadership of greater Cape Town to get their perspective with regards to the incident‚” he said.
Hours before the mosque attack‚ the MJC issued a call for unity among Muslims in South Africa after what it described as “an extremely difficult and strenuous Ramadaan”.
On its Facebook page‚ the MJC said: “It was plagued by much controversy‚ discord and disunity from defamation and slander to blatant disrespect and takfirism [excommunication].This discord had a direct impact on our reputation as a tolerant and dignified community who pride ourselves on our Din [religion] in our beautiful land.”
MJC president Sheikh Irfaan Abraham said Muslims should remain calm and follow the law.
“In this case‚ whoever committed the crime we can’t hold their community responsible for that‚ that would be very unfair towards them. Whoever is guilty‚ he must face the consequences‚” he said.