President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed worshippers at the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam yesterday. He is holding Abida, the two-year-old daughter of Abbas Essop who was killed in an attack on the mosque.

DURBAN - POLICE have honed in on three suspects from Wentworth who could be linked to the deadly attack on Verulam’s Shia-sect Imam Hussain Mosque.

This was revealed by a well-placed source within the Hawks this week as an investigation into the attack enters its second month.

Yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the mosque to meet with the family of Abbas Essop who was killed during the attack.

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. Although it has been two months since the incident, no arrests have been made.

Speaking at the mosque yesterday, Ramaphosa reassured the community of Ottawa that law enforcement agencies were working tirelessly to get to the bottom of the attack.

He said such an attack affects the whole country, and not just the families of those who lost loved ones.

“This attack has brought about sadness which we never want to see again in our country. We feel the pain of those affected.

“This is a pain that we don’t wish upon anyone who is part of our beautiful nation,” said Ramaphosa.

He said that when a place of worship is attacked, it wounds the entire country.

“There is no place in this country to allow for such incidents to happen. I assure the community that law enforcement agencies have been tasked to give this high priority and get to the bottom of the attack,” said Ramaphosa.

The head of the Shia community in SA, Moulana Syed Aftab Haider also addressed those in attendance during Ramaphosa’s visit.

He stressed that the Shia community was a minority one, which had been at the receiving end of hate and discrimination for many years.

Protected

Responding to Haider’s sentiments, Ramaphosa said that the constitution did not allow for minorities to be treated any differently.

“The religion of Islam will be protected in terms of the Constitution. The Constitution is your shield and will protect you against any type of violations of your rights,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa also said the attack on the Malmesbury mosque in Cape Town, where one person was killed, was similarly unacceptable.

“These attacks are what we never want to see happening again in South Africa. We are a country that has embraced the concept of religious tolerance.

“We are a country that has embraced the equality of our people, and this has been borne out of our history, so we cannot allow for things like this to happen,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa then personally greeted Essop’s family.

Meanwhile, Hawk’s spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the suspects had been identified, but the public needed to be patient and allow police to carry out their investigations.

“We need to be 100% sure before we make an arrest. This sensitive matter has top priority. It would be wrong to make an arrest without conducting a thorough investigation first,” he said.

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE