Police mistreatment

Ming Lai He was arrested last week under charges of contravening the Disaster Management Act.
Photo: WP Paarz / Flickr

“ISIS trial” in Durban: Verulam suspect allowed to travel to China

Farhad Hoomer is suspected of masterminding a bomb plot and a mosque attack in Verulam, Durban. So why has he been allowed to visit China?

Police mistreatment

Ming Lai He was arrested last week under charges of contravening the Disaster Management Act.
Photo: WP Paarz / Flickr

The defence team acting on behalf of a group of men believed to be behind multiple ISIS-inspired acts of terrorism in Durban last year have secured a small victory for one of their clients. Judge Naidoo has granted permission for the alleged “mastermind” of the Verulam attacks to travel to China on business.

Verulam mosque attack: Who is Farhad Hoomer?

The accused are suspected to have planted incendiary devices at malls across KwaZulu-Natal. All of the 11 suspects are facing charges under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

Farhad Hoomer, who is accused of orchestrating an attack at the Imam Hussain Mosque in May last year which resulted in the death of Verulam mechanic Abbas Essop, as well as firebomb attacks at retail outlets in the months that followed, will be allowed to travel China for business.

ISIS in Verulam – why one of the defendants has been allowed to travel:

The somewhat extraordinary decision was made on Monday, following a successful application by the defence. Hoomer’s lawyer successfully argued that, due to him running a business which turns over “R5 million a month”, it was necessary for him to undertake the journey. The court agreed, on the basis that:

  • Hoomer must return after seven days. There will be a warrant for his arrest issued if he stays for longer.
  • He is also strictly forbidden from going anywhere outside of China.
  • The ISIS-linked suspect must provide a full itinerary of his travel schedule, including flights, hotels and meetings, to the investigating officer in the case.

The ISIS Verulam case so far

Previously, there have been repeated reports of thwarted escape attempts by Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio and his co-accused, his wife Fatima Patel and Ahmad Mussa, which was also confirmed by the investigating officer in this fascinating case, Adriaan van Jaarsveld. He reeled off an explanation of how such a ploy would have worked:

“Intelligence has shown that the accused would not refrain from attacking the police, prosecutors and the judicial staff and would die as martyrs in the process, as per their ideology. There will be a considerable amount of violence and threats to make good of their escape attempt.”

“The use of force by firearms and other related objects during the escape attempt will definitely cause serious harm, injury, or fatalities to the public, police, and court officials. The plan was to use human beings as shields and hostages in the attack.”

Investigating Officer Adriaan van Jaarsveld