19 in SA court over mosque attack, bomb scares

The hearing was held "in camera", with the public, family members and media banned from the courtroom in the Verulam Magistrate's Court outside the city.

Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG - Nineteen suspects appeared in a South African court on Monday over a fatal knife attack at a mosque and several explosive devices placed in shops in the coastal city of Durban.

The hearing was held "in camera", with the public, family members and media banned from the courtroom in the Verulam Magistrate's Court outside the city.

Before the hearing, police said that the suspects were arrested last week and would likely face charges including murder, attempted murder, extortion and kidnapping.

Police said they had freed a malnourished hostage held in chains at one of the houses where the arrests were made.

During the mosque attack in May, one worshipper died and two others were wounded by knife-wielding assailants.

Several devices were placed in mall shops in Durban between March and August. Some were triggered and caused minor fires.

Friends and family members of the mosque victims waited in tears outside the courthouse, according to local media.

"Government has deemed the incidents very seriously and they demanded a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to book," said Police Minister Bheki Cele in a statement.

The hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.