Slain Islamic activist Yousuf Deedat.
Slain Islamic activist Yousuf Deedat.

Fervour for his religion was second to his ­generosity

By NADIA KHAN and JANINE MOODLEY Time of article published Jan 24, 2020

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Durban - “I’m sure you know by now I am the prime suspect.”

These were the words of Anwar Essop outside his home in Verulam.

The POST is aware that Yousuf Ahmed Deedat was granted an interim protection order against Essop several months ago.

Last Wednesday morning, Deedat, 65, of Durban North, was on his way to have the order finalised at the Verulam Family Court when a man approached him from behind and shot him once in the back of the head.

The gunman, who is unknown at this stage, fled in a white vehicle that was parked along Groom Street. Deedat died two days later in St Anne’s Hospital, Pietermaritzburg, and was buried on Saturday morning.

When the POST visited Essop’s home on Monday, he declined to comment further. However, he promised to give an interview at a later stage.

Deedat sought the court’s protection after he claimed Essop assaulted him outside the Verulam Magistrate’s Court last year.

On trying to obtain a copy of the order this week,the POST was informed it was part of police investigations and could not be accessed.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Kholiswa Mdhluli confirmed that the information could not be given out at this stage. “We cannot give out the order as it overlaps with the criminal case and will interfere with the investigations of the case.”

Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, Deedat’s brother-in-law, said Deedat feared for his life.

Abdool-Karim said he planned to look at the protection order to understand the background but understood it related to Deedat’s family home.

He also claimed the man in question had been standing outside the magistrate’s court at the time of the shooting. He said the family had heard that the same individual had been staying in the family home for the past three years.

“I think for the past few days the family have been trying to deal with the immediacy of the tragedy, but over the next week they will try to understand what happened,” Abdool-Karim said.

He added that Deedat had been vocal and expressive in fighting for justice but, on a personal level, was a kind and generous person.

“He is not without his controversies but as a person, on a one-on-one basis, he was there for anyone.

“His fervour for his religion was second to his generosity. He would never refuse a person based on religion.”

Deedat’s son is a doctor in Cape Town and his daughter is a lawyer in Joburg. His father was Ahmed Deedat, the founder of the Islamic Propagation Centre International, who died in 2005. His wife, Howa, died a few weeks later.

Abdool-Karim said that Deedat spoke to his family about writing a book for his grandchildren about the alleged injustices of the Department of Justice, corruption in prisons, charge offices and the courts. However, he never started it.

Security guards at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court knew Deedat well. If he was not engaged in a legal matter he was listening to one.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of murder had been opened.

She added that the motive for the murder was unknown. 


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