AN APPARENT Islamophobic attack on two North West men has sparked outrage in the Muslim community, with women in Krugersdorp saying their burkas often attracted racial and religious slurs.
“I’ve been told a number of times in front of my two-year-old grandchild that I should be in an [Osama] Bin Laden movie. It happens a lot here in Krugersdorp and it’s unacceptable,” 49-year-old Fadheelah Patel said yesterday.
Patel was among Muslim men and women who congregated at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court in support of Anser Mahmood.
He survived an attack in which 27-year-old Mohammed Fayaaz Kazi was killed.
Kazi died on Tuesday last week, hours after two Afrikaans-speaking men allegedly kicked and beat him after he took offence when they mocked his beard and called him Osama bin Laden.
Mahmood, who had travelled from Ventersdorp to Magaliesburg with Patel, was also beaten up in the attack after they had stopped at a Chicken Licken outlet to buy food.
With a dark blue bruise under his eye and a tracksuit hood pulled over his head, Mahmood broke down in tears when recounting the events of Monday August 6.
“We hadn’t done anything. Just because of his [Kazi’s] appearance… his beard. They called him Osama bin Laden,” said Mahmood, trying hard to fight back tears, which streamed down his cheeks as his emotions got the better of him.
He did not get a chance to face Roedolf Viviers, 28, and Zayn van Tonder, 33, as relatives, members of the public and the media were barred from sitting in on proceedings.
This, explained Gauteng police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale, was done in a bid to avoid compromising the identity parade the two men still had to go through.
“We have an ID parade out-standing so we were afraid people were going to take pictures with their cellphones and circulate them,” she said.
She could not say if Magistrate Ncumisa Gcolotela had made the in-camera proceedings an order of court. National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Louw said she was “still awaiting confirmation from the senior prosecutor”.
Questions were posed to the two women as it was not clear how the media and family members’ presence in court would jeopardise the identity parade as magistrate Gcolotela could have just barred publication of pictures of the two men charged.
“There are still investigations pending so it was to ensure that the identity parade is not compromised,” Louw said.
The two men were expected back in court on August 21.
Kazi’s wife, Sajidah Motara, was not in court yesterday as she is still in mourning.
“She is absolutely devastated. It’s the month of Ramadaan and Muslim wives work hard to prepare the best meal for the evening.
“She had prepared the best meal for him in preparation to break the fast at sunset, only to get news later that her husband was fighting for his life after being beaten up for his religion. [This] was devastating,” family spokesman Zahid Asmal said.
Equally devastated were Kazi’s two younger brothers, Mohmed Nuaman and Mohammed Farhan.
“Whenever they talk about it they just cry. This was a brutal attack based on religion. To think in 2012 you have people who still harbour those kind of feelings is disgraceful,” said Asmal.