Magistrate Irfan Khalil has told the Verulam Magistrate’s Court that the State’s case against the eleven accused in connection with a Verulam mosque attack earlier this year, was weak and likely to fail. He delivered judgment on bail on Tuesday. Eight of the eleven suspects were granted bail between R200 000 and R300 000 each. The remaining three accused were released on a warning.
The suspects are accused of planting incendiary devices across KwaZulu-Natal malls as well as an attack on the Imam Hussein mosque in Ottawa in May this year.
Khalil said the evidence that the State presented was not strong enough to detain the eight accused until investigations were concluded.
Khalil told the court that the general presence of the suspects cellphones in the vicinity of where the bomb scares took place, cannot form the basis of evidence, and that it is simply too drastic of a conclusion. He said the right to freedom applies to all people in South Africa whether they are in the country illegally or not. He told the packed courtroom that while there was evidence in the form of an identity parade against the alleged kingpin Farhad Hoomer, other bits of loose information merely raises suspicion.
It emerged in court that accused four, ten and 13 were not pointed out at all in the identity parade and were merely arrested because they were at a house in Reservoir Hills, where all of the other arrests were made. Accused six and 17 were identified in the parade for having been involved in the Ottawa Mosque attack, while accused 14 and 16 were pointed out by the kidnap victim for having been involved in the kidnapping. Khalil said he was not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence against them.
He went on to tell the court that there is nothing before him that indicates, that the applicants if released on bail, will not stand trial. Khalil said that investigation is at an early stage and more still needs to be done. He told the court that investigations are likely to take up to nine months to reach completion and the trial will take another year. He also mentioned the strong families ties of all the accused.
Accused number one Farhad Hoomer was granted bail of R200 000. Three of the accused were released on a warning, on condition that each of them report to the Durban central police station every Wednesday, that they all reside in the residence provided in the affidavit and refrain from the leaving KwaZulu-Natal. They are also not allowed to communicate with any of the witnesses or complainants. All accused have been ordered to surrender their passports.
Meanwhile the mosque’s founder Azad Seedat says, while the judgment on bail is not an ideal outcome, the community respects the decision of the court.
“This is only a bail application, they’ve only been released on bail. This is not the actual trial. Come to trial, that’s when the real fireworks will start and that’s when proper evidence will be led. We are convinced and we are assured that the state will come with a strong case and ensure a conviction.”
The case has been postponed the matter to the 22 February 2019 for further investigation.
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