SATAC Special Report: The Verulam Eleven

The Verulam Family Court heard on 22 Oct 2018 that eleven men accused of the May fatal attack at a KwaZulu-Natal Shia mosque and planting several incendiary devices at Durban shopping centres have links to the so called Islamic State (ISIS). The accused are from South Africa, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

The court heard that during their arrests, the men were found in possession of an ISIS newsletter and a manual on how to make bombs and carry out assassinations, as revealed in an affidavit that Warrant Officer Benedict Chonco of the Hawks presented in opposition to the men’s release on bail. W.O. Chonco revealed that some of the 11 men were positively identified for the Imam Hussein Shia Mosque attack in Verulam and for the planting of bombs at major Durban shopping centres.

Chonco also stated that CCTV footage at the Woolworths stores placed some of them at the scenes where incendiary devices were planted and that a white Hyundai Getz and VW Polo Vivo, allegedly used in the mosque attack and a Woolworths store in Gateway in Umhlanga, were registered to accused number one, businessman Farhad Hoomer of Durban.

Hoomer was identified as the leader of the group and his house in Reservoir Hills was used for training the group for more than a year and a device similar to the bomb used in the mosque attack and those found at Woolworths stores was found at Hoomer’s home. He is also the owner of the house where a victim was found kidnapped.

Hoomer’s cellphone location was linked to the mosque attack in Verulam and the three victims of extortion in the matter had had previous dealings with Hoomer – each had received a threatening SMS demanding about R1 500 000.

Hoomer and his co-accused, Mohamad Akbar‚ Ndikumana Shabani, Seiph Mohamed‚ Amani Mayani‚ Ahmed Haffejee‚ Thabit Mwenda‚ Abubakar Ali‚ Abbas Jooma‚ Mahammed Sobruin‚ and Iddy Omani applied for bail.

They face 14 charges including murder, attempted murder, arson, extortion and the violation of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act. Magistrate Irfaan Khalil postponed the case to the 24th for the defence’s replying affidavit.

It would appear that this was a criminal conspiracy that took advantage of the fear of ISIS terror to motivate victims’ compliance and to obfuscate the motive for the attacks.

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SATAC Research & Analytics Team

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