‘Ter­ror’ king­pins linked to top fam­i­lies

Sus­pects’ lawyers and fam­i­lies sworn to se­crecy

Post - - FRONT PAGE - CHAR­LENE SOMDUTH and CHANELLE LUTCHMAN

THREE lo­cal king­pins and the young chil­dren of some prom­i­nent Durban fam­i­lies are be­lieved to be among the 19 sus­pects ar­rested for the spate of bomb threats in KwaZulu-Natal and the at­tack at the Imam Hus­sein Mosque in Ot­tawa, which left one per­son dead.

Some of the city’s top lawyers are rep­re­sent­ing the ac­cused. How­ever, they de­clined to com­ment, say­ing they had been made to signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

The ar­rests came af­ter mul­ti­ple raids by the Hawks at sev­eral homes, busi­ness premises and places of wor­ship in and around the Durban area at the week­end.

Dur­ing the raids items were con­fis­cated “in­clud­ing a ready-made in­cen­di­ary de­vice”.

The sus­pects made their first ap­pear­ance in the Veru­lam Mag­is­trate’s Court, on Mon­day, un­der heavy po­lice guard. They are fac­ing charges of ter­ror­ism, mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, ex­tor­tion, kid­nap­ping, con­tra­ven­tion of the Ex­plo­sives Act and ar­son.

The me­dia and fam­ily mem­bers were banned from the court pro­ceed­ings af­ter mag­is­trate Ir­fan Khalil made a rul­ing that the iden­tity or names of the ac­cused could not be di­vulged.

Out­side the court room, more than 20 rel­a­tives of the ac­cused paced the halls, wait­ing for in­for­ma­tion.

One man sat silently on a bench with his prayer beads in his hands as an­other woman wept af­ter find­ing out she would not be able to see her rel­a­tive.

The fam­i­lies said the ar­rests had thrown their lives in tur­moil.

Hawks spokesper­son Brigadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said in­ves­ti­ga­tions were at a sen­si­tive stage and iden­tity pa­rades needed to be com­pleted be­fore the names of the ac­cused were made pub­lic.

Mean­while, the fam­ily of the Durban busi­ness­man who was found chained and se­verely mal­nour­ished dur­ing the raids by the Hawks, fear for their safety.

The sus­pects have also been charged for the busi­ness­man’s kid­nap­ping.

The man, who was al­legedly be­ing held for ran­som by his kid­nap­pers, was res­cued from a “dun­geon-like room” at a place of wor­ship in the city.

A rel­a­tive, who did not want to be named, said the busi­ness­man, a for­eigner, was re­ported miss­ing to the po­lice af­ter he failed to re­turn home.

“We searched for him but were un­able to trace his where­abouts. His wife was no­ti­fied by po­lice that he had been found and taken to hos­pi­tal for treat­ment. We have been told that he is not in a good state.”

The rel­a­tive said he had suf­fered se­vere mal­nu­tri­tion af­ter be­ing starved.

“We were also told that he was held cap­tive in chains. For now his wife is the only per­son who is al­lowed to see him. There are po­lice guard­ing his room as well. This is a ter­ri­ble act. It is in­hu­mane to treat some­one this way.”

The rel­a­tive called for jus­tice.

“He has two chil­dren and this ordeal has left them trau­ma­tised and they are even ques­tion­ing their safety in this coun­try.”

The fam­ily of Ab­bas Es­sop, who was killed in the mosque at­tack in May, de­clined to com­ment on the ar­rests.

Imam Ali Nchiyane and care­taker Mo­hammed Ali were in­jured.

Chair­per­son of the mosque Azad See­dat said Nchiyane had not re­turned to the mosque since the at­tack.

He was un­der po­lice guard be­cause he was a key wit­ness in this case, said See­dat.

“I am happy about the ar­rests but one has to won­der what or who is be­hind the bomb threats.”

See­dat said peo­ple were not born to hate.

“There has to be some­thing or some­one that is in­flu­enc­ing or mo­ti­vat­ing these peo­ple. I don’t want to spec­u­late on whether or not the bomb threats were linked to ter­ror­ism, but I be­lieve we need to watch our chil­dren and watch who they are in­ter­act­ing with.”

See­dat said no threats had been made to them, nor were there any de­mands for money. The at­tack, he said, was just a hate­ful act of vi­o­lence.

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