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Cape Town - An enraged crowd gathered at the Mitchells Plain Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning to protest at the bail application of a man accused of killing of four Pakistani men in Rocklands.
Gunmen entered the premises of a home bakery in Rocklands on Tuesday night and opened fire on Muhammad Shafique, 42, Adnan Haider, 23, Ghulam Baqar, 23, and Shazad Ahmad, 39.
Two other men were wounded in the attack, one critically.
Outside courtroom 4, confusion reigned when a large group of friends and family were blocked by police from entering. They argued and banged on the door. They were told that they would be allowed to enter only once other cases scheduled for Friday morning had been heard. This subdued the crowd.
In the street outsidee court, several hundred Pakistanis and locals chanted for “justice” and the denial of bail for the accused.
Meanwhile, two men injured in Tuesday evening’s attack remain in hospital, one of them still in a critical condition.
Abid Hussain, whose brother and cousin were killed, has not been able to secure a flight back from Pakistan, where he is visiting. Hussain, a businessman and owner of a company called Eastern Distributors which delivers bread, has lived in Mitchells Plain for 16 years. The Pakistani community believes that the killings were motivated by business rivalry.
But police have warned against speculation.
Hanif Loonat, chairman of the Western Cape Community Policing Forum said: “This case is receiving our full attention. It makes no difference whether the victims of crime are foreign nationals or South Africans. We call for calm, and for the community to trust that the truth will be revealed through the investigation and the processes of the court.”
On Wednesday night, another Pakistani man was threatened at his home, allegedly by two men and a woman. Strandfontein police had not responded to the Cape Argus’ queries about the arrests of the three at the time of publication.
“They broke his window with a spade and said to him: ‘We will kill you, that is why we are here’. He hid with his family, and neighbours came out and scared the suspects off. Two of them were arrested by police,” said Javed Iqbal.
Iqbal is the uncle of Shazad Ahmad, one of the men killed on Tuesday.
“I have not been able to tell my sister (Ahmad’s mother) of her son’s death. The pain will be too deep, and she has a bad heart. She hasn’t seen her son for six years and I know that she was looking forward to him coming to visit later this year,” he said.
The final arrangements for the bodies of the deceased to be repatriated to Pakistan are being made, said Iftikhar Butt, general secretary of the Pakistani Community Welfare Association of the Western Cape.
“We expect that their bodies will be flown out on Monday, by which time we will ensure that all of the next of kin are informed about the deaths. We wanted to shield them from all the stress and admin involved in the repatriation process.”