JOZI MOSQUES FEARS
Durban slaying sparks security concerns
USLIM leaders across Gauteng have called for calm as police hunt for a group that left one man dead and two others injured in a blood-curdling attack on a Shia mosque in Verulam, near Durban.
Despite this shock first attack of its kind in South Africa, most mosques across Gauteng hadn’t increased security during Friday prayers yesterday.
“We haven’t done so, because we need to find out what the motive was for the attack,” said moulana Ebrahim Bham, of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, yesterday.
Last night Abbas Essop was buried, as leaders of the mosque said that the attack had all the hallmarks of an Islamic State (Isis) attack.
They believed the mosque was targeted because it was a Shia place of worship, and this exposed the tensions between Shia and Sunni population.
On Thursday, the three men stormed the mosque, slitting Essop’s throat and butchering two other worshippers just after midday prayers. They also petrol-bombed the mosque before fleeing.
Verulam moulana Ali Nchinyane recalled the moment of the horrifying attack when the men walked into the Iman Hussein mosque at Ottawa. “I fought for my life. I did not want to die.”
Mourners came from as far as London as well as all corners of South Africa to pay their respects to Essop, a mechanic, father-of-two and member of the congregation, a block away from his home.
Another victim of the attack, mosque official Muhammed Ali, was recovering in the intensive care unit at Addington Hospital as the funeral ceremony for Essop took place.
According to reports, local Islamic leader Aftab Haider said that the mosque and the Shia community had received threats before.
This hatred has even spilt over on to the internet where a number of local anti-shia websites have sprung up. The Shia Muslims are a minority in South Africa.
One Shia community in Edenvale yesterday was considering beefing up its security following the attack.
Worshippers at the Shia Babul Llm Islamic Centre would be meeting soon to see what precautions they could take to protect the 50-odd families that gather at the mosque. Last year, they were forced to improve security at the mosque, after six
Mmen came to the centre wanting to worship. They were behaving oddly, Mesum Hussain, a member of the centre’s management, explained.
“They told us this was the first time that they had been to the mosque, but they knew were everything was,” said Hussain. The men were asked to leave.
“We have to do something, if it happened in Durban, it can happen in any place,” Hussain said.
By last night, the Hawks had not made any arrests, nor revealed a possible motive for the attack. The unit is investigating a count of murder, two of attempted murder and a case of arson.
Terror experts were monitoring social media platforms preferred by Isis. It was usual, said the director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman, for Isis to claim responsibility for such an attack. She had seen social media posts from what she called the Fanboys, supporters of Isis, who were talking about the Durban incident.
“They are saying that a Shia general was killed there,” she said, emphasising that this was not official confirmation by Isis. THE INDEPENDENT Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) says it has yet to be convinced that streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon are the reason behind Multichoice’s massive loss in business.
Multichoice, which operates Dstv, claims it lost over
100 000 Dstv Premium subscribers in its last financial year from the “unregulated” competition it faces face from “over-thetop” (OTT) internet streaming services like Netflix.
This was revealed yesterday by Multichoice SA’S chief executive Calvo Mawela who presented his argument to Icasa’s panel on the final day of the communications regulator’s public hearings.
Icasa’s public hearings, held from Monday, were an enquiry into subscription TV broadcasting services.
Icasa is looking to address Multichoice’s “market dominance” by further regulating the firm. However, Multichoice has argued that if Icasa proceeds with more regulations, it will kill Dstv’s business and hand the South African market to the online streaming giants.
According to Multichoice, Netflix and other international streaming companies “do not pay tax” in South Africa and also don’t contribute levies to organisations such as the Media Development and Diversity Agency or Universal Service and Access Agency of SA, nor do they pay broadcasting licence fees.
Multichoice argued to Icasa’s council that it must not go overboard with regulations, and that whatever it implements should apply to the whole pay-tv sector – including services like Netflix.
“We understand that OTTS have come into the market and they have had serious growth and their revenue figures have substantiated that,” said Nomonde Gongxeka-seopa, an Icasa panel member.
“What we are missing, though, is how this had an impact on the pay-tv market, which you haven’t provided us with.
You have provided us with graphs on how OTTS have affected pay-tv stations in countries like the UK and the US, but we need research within the South African market to convince us that these OTTS are actually competing with pay TV.”
Icasa has given Multichoice until May 31 to provide it with “empirical evidence” that there is a direct link between the presence of OTTS and its drop in revenue and subscriber numbers before they make a decision whether it will further regulate pay-tv stations.
“We need to see that there is a direct link between the presence of OTT and your revenue and your subscriber base in such a way they are really significantly impacting on the competition dynamics specifically for the SA market.”
Mawela warned Icasa that heavy-handed regulations for the pay-tv market could cost thousands of jobs.
“Netflix will never employ a lot of people around the world like we have. It employs around 4 000 people for the whole group,” said Mawela. Multichoice has 8 000 employees in South Africa. He said most of its staff were black, and that most of the people it employs are women.
Multichoice SA chief operating officer Mark Rayner believed that OTTS would fundamentally disrupt the pay-tv industry and that Icasa was not paying enough attention to these developments. “It’s possible that the economic climate might have changed in that time and that is why you may have experienced a loss of subscribers,” said Botlenyana Mokhele, an Icasa panel member.