Two worshippers have been killed and several wounded in a stabbing attack at a mosque in Malmesbury in the Western Cape in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Western Cape police confirmed that the attacker was shot dead by police.
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The attack comes at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and five weeks after another attack at a mosque in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal.
Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Andrè Traut said Malmesbury police were called out to the mosque in the early hours of the morning and found two people stabbed to death and several injured.
“A couple of hours ago – about 03:00 – as people got themselves ready to pray, the suspect just got up and started stabbing the people. He was praying with them,” Malmesbury Police Constable Henry Durant told News24.
Fellow worshippers said there was no warning that the suspect, believed to be a foreign national in his 30s, was about to commit the violent crime.
“There was an old man and he tried to cut the old man’s head off and the man died. Other people went to the Swartland hospital,” said Durant from the scene.
“This guy was not in a hurry – he was very calm – he did not run, he walked away. He had a big Rambo knife.”
Police officers approached the suspect, who refused to lay down his knife and charged at the officers.
“He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process. His death will be investigated by IPID,” Traut said.
There is no identified motive for the crime yet.
“We don’t know anything. There is no information, there is no motive, there’s nothing like that,” said Durant.
Provincial detectives are currently combing the scene for clues.
The Muslim Judicial Council said it was “shocked to its core” to learn about the attack on the Malmesbury Masjied.
“We can confirm that two people have been killed whilst in I’tikaaf and another regular musallee of the Masjied injured.”
“We do not have any further details as yet but we urge the community not to jump to any conclusions until clarity can be given,” the MJC said.
On May 10, armed men stabbed and injured two workers and killed a worshipper at a Shia mosque in Verulam, outside Durban.
The mosque also had its library petrol-bombed during the attack.
A bomb was found at the mosque in the week after the attack.