File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
DURBAN - Prayer services at the Faizane Mariam Masjid on Effingham Road are continuing, despite damage caused by a raging fire believed to have been started by arsonists early yesterday morning.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of arson was being investigated by the Greenwood Park SAPS.

According to Mbele, a complainant said he had been asleep in the mosque when he heard windows shattering.

“He saw that there was a fire inside the mosque and managed to get out through the window. No injuries were reported,” Mbele said.

She added that at this stage it was believed that the suspects poured petrol into the mosque and set it alight. The motive is as yet unknown.

Simeon Joseph said he was on his way home when he saw the “high flames” engulfing the mosque. Joseph said he drove to a nearby restaurant and asked people there to assist in putting out the fire.

“When we got to the mosque, one of the guys called the Moulana and the fire department. There wasn’t much we could do because the flames were so intense,” he said.

Imraan Subrathie, from the Effingham Islamic Society Trust, said there was significant damage to the mosque, with the ladies section totally destroyed. He said the cost of the damages was estimated at approximately R1.5million.

“The ladies section has been gutted, while the entire mosque’s air-conditioning system melted with the intensity of the heat. The electrical system is also completely dysfunctional,” said Subrathie.

He said that, fortunately, the entrance of the mosque remained intact and prayers had continued there yesterday.

However, with a large congregation expected on Friday, Subrathie said they were hoping to clean up most of the damage to be able to host about 500 worshippers.

Subrathie said it was very painful to see the damage that had been done to the 20-year-old mosque. Anyone who wants to assist can email Imran Subrathie on [email protected] 

- THE MERCURY