East Cape News (Grahamstown)

18 September 2001

South Africa: Religious Leaders Instruct Padav to Keep Low Profile

"Religious leaders" have instructed People Against Drugs and Violence (Padav) in Port Elizabeth not to comment on the US terror attacks.

Padav spokesperson Shaheed Blunden said he had not heard of a report ON THE WEEKEND in which Padav leader Wasief Lagardien said terror group leader Osama bin Laden's courage was regarded with praise and wonder by members of the organisation. Lagardien was quoted in Die Burger as saying Padav felt sorry for the innocent people who died in America and did not support such actions, but there were two sides to the story.

He reportedly said: "Every day a person hears 'shame, poor America. What about 'shame, poor Iraq'?"

However, Blunden told ECN this morning: "I don't know anything about any comments."

Asked for Lagardien's telephone number, he said Padav's exeuctive committee had decided that no calls should be directed to Padav's leadership and phone numbers would not be given out.

Meanwhile, he said Padav was holding meetings throughout the week and over the weekend and a decision on what approach and stance they would take on the American crisis would most likely be known by Monday.

He said one of the reasons they were being so wary was because everything they had said in the press had been used against them in court.

Lagardien and 11 others are on bail facing charges of public violence. The are due to appear in court on 28 September.

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