Durban - A man accused of bombing, murder and terrorism will be suing the state for wrongful arrest.
Farhad Hoomer said his 21-month nightmare is finally over. Hoomer and 11 others were accused of terrorist-related activities.
On Monday, at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, magistrate Irfaan Khalil struck the case off the roll after the State brought a postponement application for further investigations.
Khalil declined the State’s application and struck the matter off the court roll, citing unreasonable delays as he found the matter had been on the court roll for almost two years. He stated that the prejudice to the accused caused them to be ostracised.
Hoomer was arrested in October 2018 in Reservoir Hills along with 17 other men. He was accused of being the mastermind behind the attack on the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam which claimed the life of Abbas Essop.
On May 10, three knife-wielding men stormed the mosque and slit the throat of Essop, a 34-year-old mechanic. Two others, Ali Nchinyane and Muhammad Ali, were also injured in the attack.
The group was also accused of planting incendiary devices around Durban. The men faced various other charges including murder, attempted murder arson and extortion. They were accused of being aligned to terror group Islamic State.
“We were all falsely arrested. We were in the middle of prayer in a mosque in Reservoir Hills when we were arrested. The bomb device which they accused us of was planted at the house,” he said.
Hoomer said besides the psychological, mental and physical damage, to be classed as a terrorist, was a huge deal.
“I spent 53 days in jail, wrongfully arrested. It was my first time in jail, and it’s 53 days I will never forget. Since our release on bail, we were followed everywhere by police.
“When you’re Muslim, you become classed as a terrorist. The State accused me of bombing, murder and terrorism, and made me out to be a monster for nothing. To have something like that over your head for 21 months was a curse,” said Hoomer.
He said he now felt a big burden taken off his shoulders.
“At the end of the day, the truth will be told. The State has been dragging their feet from day one. They had nothing against us. I am trying to figure out how I was implicated and why did they target me,” he said.
Hoomer, 42, of Overport, said he had been in business for 20 years, in the shoe industry, property and in gold and diamond.
“I lost everything and all my business associates. The case caused a lot of stress and friction in the family. It messed up my married life as well. I lost my wife and kids, friends and family,” he said.
The father of eight said he had to sell some of his properties to pay the millions in legal costs.
Last year, Hoomer was prevented from attending the Southern African Ulama Forum Conference hosted by the Darul Ihsan Humanitarian Centre.
Hoomer’s lawyer Yusuf Cassim said they would be pursuing a civil action case against the state for unlawful arrest.
“The State’s evidence from the beginning was questionable. At the marathon bail application over a span of two months, we showed throughout the State’s evidence was non-existent and therefore had no case.
“The mistake the State made was to arrest first and investigate later. There was abuse of power by the State,” said Cassim.
Natasha Kara, spokesperson for the Director of Prosecutions KZN, said the matter was being closely monitored and worked on together by the SAPS and the prosecutors of the Organised Crime Office of the NPA.
“Investigations will continue,” said Kara.
Ahmed Amod, legal representative of one of the other accused, Ahmed Haffejee, said, at this stage, they had no intention of doing anything.
“I haven’t consulted with my client. I want my client to digest what has happened and then consult next week.”
Azad Seedat, spokesperson for the Essop family and chair of the Imam Hussain Mosque, said the family was very disappointed.
“The decision by the magistrate to withdraw was a double blow to the family. Justice has not been served. The family will be putting pressure on the NPA to have the matter reinstated,” said Seedat.