Gang robs worshippers in mosque

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Independent Newspapers

Adam Sadick, one of the armed robbery victims in the Joburg CBD mosque, said he isnt surprised that robbers dont have respect for a sacred place. But one of the worshippers said the robbery wont deter them from returning to the mosque. Picture: Matthews Baloyi

Johannesburg -

They were praying when an armed gang stormed in, ordering them to the floor.

Adam Sadick said he was kneeling in prayer last Thursday night when a group of about six men stormed the mosque at the corner of President and Von Brandis streets in the Joburg city centre.

There were about 200 worshippers when the robbery took place, but none were injured and no shots were fired.

“I was praying when I heard people saying ‘lie on the floor’. The screams were very loud and terrifying. I just knew we were being robbed,” he said.

Despite the attack, Sadick was back at the mosque on Sunday.

“I did not see them come inside. We were facing one direction and praying and they came from behind. It was scary.

“They started searching the pockets of each person, taking all the valuables, such as money and cellphones. I was shaking as I awaited my turn.

“I did not even look at them. I heard that they were armed with guns, but I did not see them.”

He had R20 in his pocket, but did not have his cellphone with him.

“The first guy came and searched my pocket. He only found a R20 note because that’s the only money I had with me. The second guy came and searched my pockets and found nothing.

“Another one searched me again and also found nothing. I was so scared. I did not know whether they were going to hurt us once they were done with searching us,” he said.

Sadick said he was not surprised he was robbed inside a mosque.

“In this country, you get robbed anywhere. The robbers just want money, they don’t care whether the people they are targeting are in a sacred place.”

On Friday, after the robbery, they decided to employ a security guard in the evenings. The robbery has not discouraged worshippers.

On Sunday, when The Star visited, a small group was praying.

One of the worshippers, who did not want to be identified, said: “We can’t let criminals control how we live our lives. I can’t stop coming to a mosque because there was a robbery on Thursday. God will protect us.”

Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee said the robbers also stole a safe that contained donation money. It was not clear how much was in it.

He said it was very worrying when places of worship came under attack.

“These criminals have absolutely no respect, and attacking a place of worship again shows the little regard they have for our sacred places.”

Abramjee appealed to the community to be vigilant and to report crime immediately.

“For whatever reason, the robbery at this Johannesburg mosque was only reported to police three days later. Charges have now been opened,” he said.

“We must ensure that every case is reported without delay. If we don’t open charges, we have little to complain about.

“My suspicion is that some of them (the worshippers) are foreigners and that is why they were scared to open a case.

“Irrespective of whether you are a foreigner or not, you must come forward to report a crime.”

He appealed to anyone with information to SMS this to CrimeLine at 32211 or call CrimeStop at 08600 10111.

The Star

solly.maphumulo@inl.co.za


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