By Al Qalam Reporter and Agencies
Eleven men accused of terror related incidents within the greater Durban area were granted bail after a Verulam Court magistrate pointed out that so far there were only “bits and pieces” of evidence linking most of the accused to the many charges facing them.
Magistrate Irfan Khalil said the accused had already spent 53 days in detention and the lack of evidence against them did not warrant the men being held in custody any longer.
The alleged cell is accused of planting explosive devices across Durban earlier this year as well as attacking the Imam Hussain Shi’a mosque near Verulam in May.
The mosque attack led to the death of Abbas Essop who had his throat slit while trying to offer assistance to the wounded. Two other men were injured during the attack. Just days later, an incendiary device was found in the mosque.
The accused are facing schedule six offences including murder, attempted murder, extortion, arson as well as charges under South African anti-terror legislation known as the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act. Some are also accused of kidnapping.
All have denied the charges. The alleged leader of the group, Durban businessman Farad Hoomer, was released on R200 000 bail.
Magistrate Khalil said: “At best there is a prima facie case against Hoomer, albeit weak, linking him to the kidnapping charge. There is little if any evidence against Hoomer. Bits and pieces linking him to (the extortion charges), (however) the totality of evidence does indeed raise suspicion.”
He said that accused two, Ahmed Haffejee, 28, who was a member of a WhatsApp group called Jundullah — meaning Soldiers of God — did not link Haffejee to ISIS. Haffejee was released on R150 000 bail.
The other nine accused were arrested at a house in Reservoir Hills on suspicion that the residence was used as a base for ISIS activity. The men denied this allegation, saying they were there to inaugurate the house that was converted into a jamaat-khanna.
The remaining suspects were released on bail ranging from R3000 to R5000. They are Tanzanian nationals Thabit Said Mwenda and Seiph Mohamed, Congolese Amani Mayani Mohamad Akbar and Abubaker Ali from Tanzania, Congolese refugees Abasi Juma and Mohammed Adil Sobruin and Burundians Iddy Omari and Ndikumana Shabani.
All the accused were warned and instructed to report at the Durban Central police station every Wednesday between 6am and 6pm, surrender travel documents, not leave the province without permission and not to interfere with witnesses.
Each accused was ordered to report to the Durban Central police station every Wednesday between 6am and 6pm. They were also ordered to surrender travel documents and not leave the province without permission, and not to interfere with witnesses.
The magistrate said it could take another year of further investigations before the matter could go for trial in the Durban High Court.