'Our mosque has been defiled and we are deeply traumatised'
Scenes of quiet desolation after 'madman' brings terror in the night to Malmesbury's Muslim community
The man who killed two people in a mosque in Malmesbury outside Cape Town jumped onto a police bakkie and stabbed the windshield with a hunting dagger before police shot and killed him.
On Thursday morning, three blue shotgun shells lay in the mud on an open field in the Swartland town; and a few metres further on a man lay in the mud, his body being battered with icy rain from an Atlantic storm.
His one shoe lay next to him as a police sniffer dog and bomb squad members checked his body for explosive devices.
The man is believed to be a Somali national and the Hawks have taken over the case.
Hawks investigators were taking statements from members of Cape Town’s Somali community in a church next to the field where forensic investigators were working on the scene.
One of the men told Times Select he was a family member of the attacker and that he did not know what the man was doing in Malmesbury as he was supposed to be in “hospital” somewhere in Cape Town.In the early hours of Thursday morning the man entered the mosque asking for shelter but the two imams present were suspicious of his behaviour and stayed up to watch him.
Two other men were also in the mosque observing i’tikaaf (night prayers during the last 10 days of Ramadaan), one of them 72-year-old Ismail Bassa.
Bassa was stabbed in his sleep along with another congregant who also succumbed to his wounds. The man also attacked the imams who ran next door to seek help from Bassa’s two sons, Faizal and Saud.
Saud, 30, and his brother Faizal‚ 24‚ were awoken at 2.30am by their mother Zainab‚ who heard the moulana knocking frantically on the door of their house‚ which is next to the mosque.
The cleric told Zainab the stranger had attacked the men as they slept.
“I rushed to my children’s room. I got them up and they phoned the cops immediately‚ and they rushed to the masjied with some heavy equipment — sticks and all that — and they tried to keep the guy inside the mosque so that he cannot escape‚” said Zainab.Saud said that when they entered the mosque the attacker had switched off the lights and he and Faizal attempted to prevent him from leaving until the police arrived.
The motive for the attack is unclear at this stage but Saud said the man appeared to be “out of his mind”, adding that he was not drunk.
“Apparently the guy came here and he was in a different kind of state. He wasn't drunk or anything but he was apparently out of his mind in a certain sense‚” said Saud.
“He claimed that he was just looking for shelter because he wanted to get a lift to Vredenburg the next morning.”
Faizal was stabbed in the face, arm and back as he tried to stop the man, but he left hospital on Thursday morning to be with his mother.
He said he knew he had to enter the mosque because his father was sleeping there.
“When I went in the guy attacked me and he was attacking the moulana. I got one or two shots in but then he turned around and stabbed me in the face and in the arm‚ and when I tried to get away he stabbed me in the back‚” he said.
After this the man ran down the street to a field where Saud caught up to him with his car and circled around him to prevent him from leaving.
When the first police arrived they were apparently unarmed and unable to deal with the situation.A police officer on the scene told Times Select that the man jumped onto the bonnet of the car and stabbed at the police van. When backup arrived the man refused to drop the knife and even after they threatened to shoot him with a shotgun he started approaching the officers. This was when he was shot.
The church bell from the St Thomas The Apostle Church adjacent to the field tolled at midday as a forensic investigator picked up the bloodied knife and placed it in an evidence bag.
The two men who were killed in the attack were laid to rest during a burial ceremony in the mosque on Thursday afternoon. The second man's identity has not yet been made public.
This was the second attack in a South African mosque this Ramadan after the Verulam mosque attack in KwaZulu-Natal last month which left several people dead and injured.Moulana Abdul Khalid Allie‚ first deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council‚ said the attack had defiled the sanctity of the mosque.
“We are deeply traumatised by this incident‚” he said. “It is a very spiritual month and it is a very significant period for the global Muslim community‚ and people at the mosque were at prayer.
“One of the most regular persons to have attended the mosque has been killed in the mosque‚ as well as a fellow person who had attended the mosque.”