A team of investigators from the Directorate of Priority Crimes (Hawks) descended on Imam Hussain Mosque on Monday in an effort to establish who left a bomb-like device in the mosque. Picture: Zainul Dawood

Durban - A team of investigators from the Directorate of Priority Crimes (Hawks) descended on the Imam Hussain Mosque on Monday in an effort to establish who left a bomb-like device in the mosque.

The device was found just hours after Police Minister, Bheki Cele visited the mosque and the grieving family of Shaheed Abbas Essop who was killed by three knifemen on Thursday at the mosque.

Two others including the Moulana Ali Nchiyana and Muhammed Ali, the mosque caretaker were also stabbed during the vicious attack.

Simphiwe Mhlongo, Hawks spokesperson, said no arrests have been made. 

Mhlongo said detectives were finding out who had entered and left the mosque since Thursday's incident. 

Azaad Seedat, founder of the mosque had also accompanied the team around the mosque on Monday.

It comes after some Ottawa residents called for the Imam Hussain Mosque to be closed down after they were evacuated from their homes when a device suspected to be a bomb was found in the mosque. 

The mosque remained closed on Monday after a device suspected to be a pipe bomb was found by a worshipper inside the mosque on Sunday night. 

The early morning prayers were not conducted and there was no sign of anyone on the property on Monday morning. 

Prem Balram, private security company Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) spokesperson said the device resembling a bomb had been located inside the building. 

"The device connected to a Nokia mobile phone was found under the Moulana's chair. It was moved by a worshipper. The device found is a small cellphone connected via wires to a white capsule. 

Residents in the area had been evacuated and the police Bomb Disposal Unit had later removed the device.

Andisha Maharaj, the facilitator of the Ottawa Environmental Forum said residents were displaced on Sunday night some without food or a warm clothing. 

Mourners tied a memorial banner for  Shaheed Abbas Essop who was killed by three knifemen on Thursday at the  Imam Hussain Mosque. Picture Zainul Dawood.
Mourners tied a memorial banner for Shaheed Abbas Essop who was killed by three knifemen on Thursday at the Imam Hussain Mosque. Picture Zainul Dawood.

She said residents gathered about 200 meters from the mosque opposite a shop. About 30 houses in the vicinity, surrounding the mosque, were evacuated. 

"Many of the residents only returned to their homes early this morning (Monday). Some had to go to school while others were working. The police bomb squad were working independently from the police so there was a lack of information filtering through to the inpatient community," Maharaj said. 

Sunil Gopi, who lives next door to the mosque, said he had arrived home from work on Sunday night and was about to have supper with his family to celebrate Mother's Day when security guards from Rusa rattled their driveway gate to inform them of the bomb. 

"What would you do if they said 'bomb'? You would run for cover. We did just that. The food was left on the table. Our cars were still in the yard. When we got to the shop parking lot we were informed of what was happening by others," he said. 

"It was cold. I had my shirt on without a jacket. I feel miserable. We did not get much sleep. My family were picked up by a relative. I had to fetch them this morning. I was very angry and emotional. The mosque management is not taking us residents serious," Gopi said. 

Maharaj who also oversees the Ottawa WhatsApp group, said residents believe the mosque should be shut down because it was not serving the interest of the community. 

"Only a few people from the area utilise the mosque. Many people come from other areas. This is a topic of discussion among residents. Many residents have not slept well since Thursday. There has been no reassurance from the mosque to solve this dilemma. We are calling for an urgent meeting with them. I have urged the residents to stand together and show a united religious front. We have been a chilled community which is predominantly occupied by Hindu people. We don't want any conflict between the religions. We are seeking guidance on how to deal with this issue and on what grounds can the mosque be closed. The social dynamics and emotional trauma cannot be explained," he said.

Baboo Mohan, another irate resident who lives across the road from the mosque said he had to bunk at a families house in Phoenix. 

"Some residents sat in their vehicles while others gathered around in the parking lot. We had no clue what was happening. Residents left their doors open and fled. It has left us tired with a sick feeling in the tummy. It creates an uneasy atmosphere," Mohan said. 

A neighbour who lives behind the mosque said his family fled the home but he had to come back home and fetch their dog. 

On Monday morning, a policeman arrived and removed the police crime scene cordon tape that was tied to the fencing at the front of the mosque. 

Inside the mosque two vehicles and a bakkie occupied the parking lot. 

Two steel tables were on the floor near the mosque door, hose pipes and debris from the fire were strewn on the side of the mosque. 

A banner with a yellow background and red writing was tied to the front gate of the mosque with the words 'In memory of Shaeed Abbas Essop' written on it above a picture of him holding a baby girl.

His brother Farouq Essop said that after last night's find the family was a little paranoid regarding their security for obvious reasons.

Daily News