The affordable education loan option
Cape Town - Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs) leader Abdus Salaam Ebrahim is to be charged with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder on Friday, his lawyer confirmed.
He is scheduled to appear in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
It is understood that the State has appointed Piet Steyn, the prosecutor in several cases involving Pagad members in the early 2000s, to deal with the matter.
The State is expected to oppose bail, and Ebrahim’s lawyer, Tashriq Ahmed, said securing bail for his client would be near impossible.
On Tuesday night, three Tanzanian men were shot and killed in Veld Road in Athlone. Two men died on the scene, the third died in hospital. A South African woman was seriously injured during the attack.
A source close to the case, who asked not to be named, recounted allegations that the three men were involved in drug dealing and that the woman who survived the attack described four gunmen wearing balaclavas and keffiyeh scarves.
Ashim Nassoro, owner of the shop where the murders took place, said on Wednesday that he saw men armed with AK-47s and 9mm pistols firing shots from outside the premises.
Ahmed said his client was arrested following eyewitness reports that placed Ebrahim near the scene of the crime at the time of the attack.
“It is absurd, and Abdus Salaam is willing to sit it out and go the distance in court to clear his name,” said Tashriq.
“I have a few issues. Firstly, my client’s hands were not tested for gun residue. Why not? Secondly, why did the police not do an identity parade so that the eye witness could formally identify Abdus Salaam.”
Even if Ebrahim was in the vicinity, it was not enough to link him to the crime, said Ahmed.
“My client lives in Athlone. It is not untoward for any resident to be in their home neighbourhood at night.”
Ahmed said there was no evidence linking Pagad to the attack, which occurred the evening before a Pagad motorcade event in Grassy Park.
“Why would the organisation undermine itself the day before one of their events? Other scenarios, that these murders resulted from gang fighting for instance, are much more plausible,” Ahmed said.
On July 24, pipe bombs were thrown at a car dealership and a home in Athlone shortly after a Pagad motorcade nearby. A week later, the evening before another Pagad motorcade, a man was shot and killed by men wearing balaclavas who had petrol bombed an alleged drug den in Grassy Park.
The Cape Argus interviewed Ebrahim in the wake of these attacks. He expressed dismay at the “media’s obsession” with linking these crimes to Pagad in the absence of evidence and arrests. The Hawks are still investigating the Athlone pipe bombings.