Junaid Ismail was among the mosque massacre victims.
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Durban - A SOUTH African family are mourning the loss of a relative who was one of the 50 victims killed in the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque massacre on Friday.

Faziela Asvat, of Johannesburg, said her niece’s son, Junaid Ismail, 36, was among the dead.

She said they were still waiting for his body to be released by authorities to perform his last rites.

Asvat said when she heard about the shooting from television reports, she immediately called her niece. Sara Ismail.

“I was worried for my family when I learned about the shooting. I called Sara, who also lives in Christchurch, but the call went unanswered.

“I then called her sister, Fatima, who was on holiday in India. All she could say, was that Junaid was missing. We prayed that he had managed to escape the shooter by hiding. But that was not to be. We later heard that he had been killed.

“When I called Sara on Monday, she said they were trying to be brave as they waited for police to release Junaid’s body,” she said

Junaid had been praying at the Masjid Al Nur mosque, when gunman Brenton Tarrant, entered the premises with a modified military-style semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on worshippers.

According to Asvat, Junaid’s twin brother, Zahid escaped the attack by seconds. She said he had been delayed and arrived for prayer after Tarrant had entered the mosque.

“His wife was with him. As they drove into the mosque’s premises they heard the gunshots and sped off.”

Asvat said her nieces and their husbands had moved to New Zealand from India in search of a better life for their families.

“I never met Junaid face to face but I often spoke to him and his wife on the phone. They had three kids aged between 3 and 5.”

She added that Junaid’s father had died 10 years ago and he took care of his mother.

As the family’s breadwinner, Junaid ran a cafe on Springs Road, which has been closed since the shooting. This week, an 18-year-old appeared in a New Zealand Court for distributing the live-stream video of the shooting. He was also charged with publishing a photograph of the mosque with the message “target acquired”, and for inciting violence.

Philanthropist, Ahmed Vally Mohammed, said the time had come to unite against extremism. “It takes a really evil character to plan such a heinous act. It’s unacceptable what has happened. I believe it’s time to take a stand together rather than divide because of different religions.”

The Secretary-General of the Jamiatul Ulama KZN, Moulana Rafiek Mohamed, said: “Any place of worship, irrespective of the faith it belongs to, is considered sacred and inviolable. This attack is part of the hatred and Islamophobia prompted by forces who have no respect for human life and religious values.”

Faisel Suliman, of the South African Muslim Network added: “It was a well thought out and well executed plan. The perpetrator actioned his feelings, but there are millions of others out there who are spewing their own hatred (against Islam) online 24/7, 365 days a year.”

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