The throats of the two people who were killed by a knife-wielding attacker at a Malmesbury mosque in the early hours of Thursday morning had been slit, a relative of one victim said.
Former Elsies River Community Policing Forum chairperson Imran Mukadam said his cousin Ismail Bassa was sleeping inside the mosque when the assailant attacked him along with two other people. Mukadam, who is currently on the scene, said he heard about the attack at 6 am on Thursday morning.
“My cousin and his young son were in the mosque where they were spending the last ten nights of Ramadaan,” Mukadam said.
He said that the man who attacked them is not known to the community and had reportedly asked the men for a place to stay overnight.
“He was on his way to Vredehoek and he asked whether he can stay and sleep because he had nowhere to go. The man was a stranger; he was not known to the community at all,” Mukadam said. He said that the attacker looked like a Somali national, but could not positively confirm this. “One of the Somalian residents tried to speak to him but he couldn’t understand,” he said.
Mkadam said the modus operandi of the incident appeared similar to a recent attack at a Durban Shi’a mosque in Verulam. “It looks very similar although I don’t want to speculate,” he said.
Earlier police spokesperson Andre Traut that the suspect who is believed to be in his late thirties was armed with a knife and still on the scene
“Police tried to persuade him to hand himself over. He ignored the calls and tried to attack police,” Traut said. In the process, police shot and killed him.
In May, three men stormed a Shi’a mosque in Verulam shortly after afternoon prayers and slit the throat of Shaheed Abbas Essop. Two other people were stabbed.
The mosque in Malmesbury is a Sunni mosque. Several people were left injured in the attack, among them the imam of the mosque.