KZN mosque attack victim died ‘protecting the weak’

The 34-year-old Abbas Essop was killed by his attackers while trying to help Muhammad Ali who had been stabbed in the stomach.

The brothers of Abbas Essop, the man who was killed in an attack on worshippers at a KZN mosque. Picture: Ziyanda Ngcobo/EWN.

DURBAN - The family of a man whose throat was slit by the attackers at the Imam Husain Mosque in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, say their loved one died protecting the weak.

The 34-year-old Abbas Essop was killed by his attackers while trying to help Muhammad Ali who had been stabbed in the stomach.

Imam Ali Nchinyane, who had heard noises from inside the mosque, sustained stab wounds but has now been discharged from hospital.

Essop died on the way to hospital.

Abbas Essop’s brother Farouk says their loved one died a hero.

“These cowards stabbed him with knives and slit his throat. This was a heinous attack. He died the way that he lived, by protecting the weak.”

Farouk says his brother’s five-year-old daughter cannot comprehend the loss.

“She said ‘mommy are they going to fix him up and send him back to us, when can we go out again?’”

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Verulam residents say they believe the incident was an act of terror.

The men who attacked the mosque are understood to have told their victims that the place of worship was "brainwashing" congregants.

Eyewitnesses and Verulam residents have recalled the loud screams shortly before the attackers slit Essop's throat and stabbed Ali.

Anisa Khan says she saw the bloodied victims running out of the mosque, screaming for help.

“They never took anything, and they said they were going to kill him and that this mosque is brainwashing [people].”

Essop leaves behind his wife, an 18-month old baby and a five-year-old daughter.

‘I’M NOT LUCKY TO BE ALIVE’

Nchinyane says he doesn't consider himself lucky to be alive because "martyrdom is the ultimate victory in Islam."

“I think I’m unlucky to survive. Martyrdom is a fortune, a great victory in Islam."

He says Essop should be remembered as a hero.

“These people were not robbers, they did not want phones, laptops, money or clothes. They strictly wanted to kill us.”

Nchinyane says this was purely an act of terrorism.

“One of the killers said: ‘I will kill you’. That’s what he said and if I hadn’t fought back, I would be dead.”