The Hawks conducted anti-terrorism raids across Gauteng this weekend. Picture: @FraudWatchZA
The Hawks conducted anti-terrorism raids across Gauteng this weekend. Picture: @FraudWatchZA

Brother and sister also arrested in anti-terror swoop

By Ilanit Chernick and Candice Soobramoney Time of article published Jul 13, 2016

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Johannesburg - A brother and sister have been identified as two others arrested during Saturday’s anti-terror raids across Gauteng.

Ebrahim and Fatima Patel were arrested in Azaadville on the West Rand and were denied bail at the Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on Monday pending further investigations by the State.

The two are being charged separately from twins Brendon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie, who appeared in court on Monday and were charged with three counts of contravening the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

The Patels’ lawyer, Yousha Tayob, said the siblings were only being charged under the Explosives Act and the Firearms Control Act, for being in possession of a stun grenade and 21 bullets.

“Ebrahim was a member of the community policing forum some years back and they were supposed to return these items, but didn’t and was arrested for it.”

He said what was worrying about the situation was that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI, the Hawks) had changed its Saturday position on bail.

“Initially the DPCI said it was not opposed to bail but this changed when we got to court on Monday. We were told by the prosecutor that they were seeking a seven-day remand of the matter pending further investigations, which was granted (by the court). The Patels were declined bail as a formality, but we have prepared a formal bail application,” said Tayob.

He said they would be seeking an urgent application at the high court in Joburg to have this decision set aside so that a formal bail application could take place.

Although authorities have said the siblings were connected to the Thulsie twins, Tayob said his clients have denied this.

Also read: Shock over Thulsie twins’ terror charges

“When I asked them about the brothers mentioned in the warrant, they said they didn’t know these names and don’t know who they are.”

At this stage, Tayob said, the Patels had not been charged under any terrorism legislation despite Saturday’s warrant being issued under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act.

“My clients have said they weren’t involved in any such illegal activity. They have not recruited or taken part in any terrorism-related activity.”

Tayob added they were hoping the Patels would be charged only under the current charges and that nothing further would be added.

According to Tayob, Ibrahim, 33, a businessman and father of three, and Fatima, 24, who is single, co-operated with the police when they pounced on their home on Saturday morning.

He said when asked if they had anything illegal to hand over, Ibrahim produced the grenade, which he allegedly obtained while with the local community policing forum and had not returned.

Fatima said she had around 20 bullets remaining from hunting trips she had been on with her brother and friends in the community.

“They co-operated with the police and nothing untoward was found.”

Tayob said the offences were “trumped up by the State to appease its US, UK and Israeli masters”.

Despite allegations that the siblings tried to travel to Syria last year to join Isis (also known as Isil: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), Tayob said this was untrue. He said Fatima, who was home schooled, had stayed at home to look after their sickly mother.

Their father is a moulana (a Muslim scholar).

“All of them are taking strain... No one wants to be in custody,” Tayob said. 

The chairman of the Azaadville Neighbourhood Watch, Ismail Nana said that he knew the Patels and that Ebrahim had been with the CPF for three to four months in 2010. He said the CPF would not have weapons such as stun grenades in its possession.

“So where did he get it from? I don’t know,” said Nana.

The Azaadville CPF declined to comment.

Nana added that the siblings were from a conservative family and Fatima, who wore purdah (a veil), lived a private life.

“As a community, we find it difficult to believe anyone is involved in such activities, which are condemned by all.”

Nana said the siblings’ parents, who he spoke to after the arrest, told him they believed them to be innocent.

“Their father was shocked, traumatised and was crying. He said they had no terrorist ties. Their mother, who was hospitalised recently, was also in shock.”

He said Azaadville had always been a peaceful, law-abiding community.

“We don’t condone violence and terrorism and don’t believe anyone in the community would willingly participate in terrorism.”

On Saturday, the Hawks arrested the four during anti-terror raids. The Thulsie brothers were arrested in Newclare and have since appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.

Included in their three charges, the twins planned to “cause explosions at a mission of the United States of America and Jewish institutions” in South Africa.

According to reports, the two bearded brothers sat closely together in the dock.

Brandon wore a grey hoodie and had a black kufi (round cap) and Tony wore a black thawb (robe).

Brandon blew a kiss to his mother as they made their way down the stairs to the holding cells.

Their mother, who was crying, left the courtroom in a hurry, while being comforted by family.

The case was postponed to July 19 pending further investigation. The twins will remain in custody.

On Tuesday, Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said investigations into the four were at a sensitive stage. “We are not in a position to give more information.”

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