CAPE TOWN. – “I am strong and I accept what happened,” said Zainab Bassa, the wife of Ismail Ahmad Bassa, (72), the man whose throat was slit in a horrific attack in a mosque in Malmesbury.
Relating their terrible ordeal, she said: “I rushed to my children’s room. They got up and called the police.
“My sons tried to keep the attacker inside the mosque, but he stabbed one son in the eye.
“My other son tried to run him over, but then the police arrived,” Bassa (59), said.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, one of the men who were in the mosque managed to escape and knocked on their door.
The family lives just next to the mosque. “I am still in shock and I don’t want to see anyone being slaughtered in the mosque… My husband was a very strong person…” she said.
The attack occurred on the last day of Ramadaan, just as Muslims were preparing to break their fast.
After stabbing several people inside the mosque complex, the attacker was shot dead by the police.
His body lay outside the mosque for several hours after police had cordoned off the scene.
Ismail’s youngest son, Faizel Bassa, who was stabbed in the eye, said: “I am still trying to come to terms with everything. I don’t really have a lot to say.
“I was woken up and I went over to the mosque, because I heard that my father was still in the mosque. The guy just attacked me.”
Imran Mukadam, a community activist from Elsies River and commentator on Muslim affairs, said it was his cousin who died in the attack.
He labelled the attack an act of terror. “It’s even more emotional knowing that this has hit very close to home.
“We’ve been calling for the Islamic values of peace
“Our appeal is for calm and we should start doing some introspection.
“This was an attack with an agenda to cause further division in our community,” Mukadam said.
The assailant is not known to the community. He had reportedly asked the men for a place to stay overnight, because he was travelling to Vredenburg.
Late Thursday afternoon the Bassa family buried Ismail in accordance with religious customs.
Ebrahim Rasool, founder of the World for All Foundation, said the senseless killings and rising levels of intolerance had gripped Muslims.
Rasool, who is also the ANC Western Cape elections head, said: “South Africa is one of the most solid countries where Muslims coexist with other racial and religious groups.
“What is sad to see in the Malmesbury attack is that it is very similar to the attack in Verulam, Durban. I think there has been a rise in intolerance from Muslim leaders.
“This intolerance borders on extremism. We need to start reflecting on whether we have diverted from that ethos of peace,” Rasool said.
“We need leaders to stop making statements that fuel these attacks. We need to stop labelling people and stop the spread of extremism. This is terrible, especially as we are entering the days of Eid.”
Politicians have reacted with shock. DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said: “We condemn this attack and will support the community of Malmesbury in their time of grief.”
ANC provincial leader Khaya Magaxa remarked that the attack had taken place during the Laila-tul-Qadr, the most sacred last 10 nights of Ramadaan.
The Hawks are investigating. – Cape Argus