14 June 2018

South Africa: Mosque Attacks - No Link Yet Between Malmesbury and Verulam Killings - Sitole

Despite similarities between the mosque attack in Verulam and the one in Malmesbury on Thursday morning, the police have not established a link between the two events, which relates to national security.

"The [Malmesbury] case is not very different from the Verulam one. Although we haven't established full connections between the two, but its nature again, is also bearing on national security," National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole told News24 after a meeting of the Portfolio Committee of Police.

The Verulam case was allocated to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) or the Hawks.

"Due to the nature of the incident, DPCI had to work with Crime Intelligence. The investigation is going well at the present moment," Sitole said.

He admitted that the police had "some little bit of dips" in updating the families and complainants, but he has since issued instructions to bring families and complainants on board.

"This is the information we can share at the moment because of the diversity of the case, which also involves other matters, which may be of national security," he said.

Referring to the attack in Malmesbury, Sitole said crime intelligence is on the ground.

"They were hands on. Again DPCI and crime detection came together.

"We decided to give the same priority to this particular case as the Verulam one."

He said DPCI and Crime Intelligence will run a joint investigation.

Sithole also assured families that they would be kept informed, as well as the mosque.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Safety MEC Dan Plato condemned the attack and also urged people to check their facts before spreading fear and religious intolerance while the Hawks do their work.

"Now is the time for calm and mourning. It is crucial we allow the authorities to do their work. Attacks like this have no place in a democratic country like ours," said Plato in a statement.

He was part of a delegation that visited the site of the attacks, and was accompanied by Anton Bredell, the MEC of local government, environmental affairs and development planning in the province, who hails from Malmesbury.

They offered their condolences and support to the community, assuring them that the Hawks' investigation was already underway. He also wants provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula to keep him updated.

Seventy-four-year-old Ismail Bassa and a foreign national, who cannot be named until his family has been informed, were stabbed to death. The two had been engaged in the Islamic spiritual practice of Itikaaf, where men retreat to the mosque to live and pray for the last 10 days of the holy month of Ramadaan.

Two other people were injured.

The attacker, which police say was a foreigner, was shot dead by police.

Source: News24

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