JOZI MOSQUES FEARS

Dur­ban slay­ing sparks se­cu­rity con­cerns

Saturday Star - - FRONT PAGE - SHAUN SMILLIE AND DUN­CAN GUY

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.

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