Crime scene experts at the scene at a Verulam Mosque after unknown armed men attacked worshippers. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo / African News Agency (ANA)

Durban – A prosecutor specialising in terrorism convictions was on Monday removed from the case involving 12 men accused of a spate of bombings in Durban and an attack at a Verulam mosque in 2018.

A Verulam court heard that senior prosecutor Adele Barnard, of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Priority Litigation Crimes Unit, was being removed from the case.  A provincial prosecutor would replace Barnard, the court was told.

The 12 suspects are accused of planting incendiary devices across retailers in Durban – specifically Woolworths - as well as attacking the Verulam-based Imam Hussain mosque in May last year, which led to the death of one man and the injury of two others.

The accused were all released on bail in November last year, with magistrate Irfan Khalil saying the state’s reliance on an identity parade – deemed flawed in various respects – and a lack of clear evidence linking them to the crimes, did not warrant the group being remanded in custody.

The men face schedule six offences which include murder, extortion and arson as well as charges under South African anti-terror legislation known as the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act, while some face kidnapping charges.

They are also suspected to have links to international terror group Isis.

At their appearance in February, KZN prosecuting authority spokesperson Natasha Kara told the media that the state intended to bring an application for voice samples from accused number one - alleged ringleader and Durban businessman - Farad Hoomer.

But during the brief appearance on Monday, the court heard that the state’s voice expert was not available to take samples.

NPA communications head, Bulelwa Makeke, told African News Agency (ANA) via telephone following the appearance that Barnard was removed from the case as a decision had been taken to refer prosecution of cases “to the relevant jurisdictions”.

“There will be no prosecution by head office, but guidance will be offered by head office,” she said, as this would enable prosecutors to gain experience within their jurisdictions.

The men will appear again on May 6, when a new prosecutor will be allocated.  

African News Agency (ANA)