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Cape Town - There has been a spate of arson and bombings in Athlone in recent weeks, with no arrests so far.
The latest victim, in Belgravia Road, Naushaad Hoosain, says that he has no idea why his business had been targeted. Hoosain’s car dealership, Auto Belgravia, was attacked by arsonists on Sunday night.
Two vehicles, valued at around R60 000 each, were damaged. Hoosain said police forensics investigators had taken the vehicles.
This was the fifth arson or bombing incident in Athlone since July 10.
On the evening of July 24, a car dealership, Velocity Motors in Klipfontein Road, and a private residence in Surrey Estate were bombed. The Hawks are investigating the bombing at Velocity Motors, where a number of vehicles were damaged by shrapnel.
Velocity owner Niyaaz Jainoodian and the homeowner, Al Williams, said on Monday they were “still in the dark” about the investigation.
There were three bombs in July near motorcades being held by People Against Gangsterism And Drugs (Pagad), leading to speculation that the group may again be employing tactics which it was accused of using in the late 1990s.
Pagad’s motorcades, in which members and supporters drive through gang areas at night in a show of solidarity with affected residents, have grown in recent months.
Pagad has denied involvement in any acts of criminality, suggesting that the bombings may be attempts by its enemies to frame the group and to “tarnish Pagad’s image”.
Cassiem Parker, spokesman for Pagad, said there were “stories” going around in Athlone that some businesses had links with gangsters and drug dealers. “A minority element” may take it on themselves to target these businesses. He did not mention any businesses by name, and stressed that he was merely rehashing “uncorroborated rumours”.
A house and car were damaged in Crawford on August 9. This followed a petrol bombing of a house (which residents said appeared to be operating as a drug dealership) in Grassy Park on July 30. One of the home’s occupants was shot and killed by the bombers. No other injuries have been reported in relation to these bombings.
Meanwhile, Pagad’s leader, Abdus Salaam Ebrahim, was arrested for the murder of three Tanzanian men in Athlone last week. Ebrahim, who is in custody at Goodwood Prison, is to appear at the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday. He has denied that he committed the murders.