The North West Premier Thandi Modise on Thursday condemned the killing of a Muslim man in Magaliesburg, reports the South African Press Association.
“There is no place in our diverse society for those who harbour racism and religious intolerance,” she said in a statement.
Modise called on police to ensure those responsible for the death of Muhammad Fayaaz Kazi, 27, were arrested.
The attack was both racist and Islamophobic, she said. She called on residents to help the police in their investigation and to exercise restraint.
Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said on Wednesday the “savage” attack on Kazi and another Muslim man carried “the stench of Islamophobia”.
“My heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the family of Fayaaz Kazi, whose brutal killers must be hunted down and brought to justice,” Kasrils said in a statement.
Kazi was beaten to death in Magaliesburg, allegedly by two people who insulted him because of his beard, according to a family friend.
Kazi, from Ventersdorp, and his father’s friend Anser Mahmood, were attacked at a Chicken Licken outlet in the town on Monday.
“Two white people… they called him [Osama] bin Laden in Afrikaans because of his beard…and then they called us kaffirs,” Mahmood told Sapa by telephone on Wednesday.
“Fayaaz, he understood Afrikaans, and was arguing with them.”
All four were thrown out of the fast food shop, and the fight continued outside.
“I asked why they were troubling him and he punched me,” Mahmood, 33, said.
“I don’t know what he hit me with. I was unconscious.”
Mahmood was mostly hit in the face, while Kazi was beaten over the head. Mahmood said he did not know what object was used to attack Kazi.
“Nobody helps us. They wanted me dead also, but I survived.”
North West police said a murder docket had been opened.
“After purchasing food from a fast food outlet an argument allegedly broke out between Kazi and two unknown Afrikaner males. It further alleged that the two suspects were mocking Kazi about his long beard,” said Brigadier Thulani Ngubane.
The two men fled the scene after the assault.
Ngubane said Mahmood refused to open a case and the two left for Ventersdorp.
“Upon arriving on Ventersdop, Kazi became weak and was transported to the Ventersdorp Hospital where he was treated and transferred to Potchefstroom Hospital after his condition became worse,” Ngubane said.
Kazi died in hospital at Potchefstroom. His funeral was held on Tuesday.
The murder case was registered at the Potchefstroom police station. It was expected to be transferred to the Magaliesburg police.
The Media Review Network, a Muslim advocacy group on human rights, called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to ensure a speedy investigation.
Researcher Ibrahim Vawda said there was widespread anger across the Muslim community.
“We strongly urge all members of our community to exercise restraint and patience and to allow the normal process of the law to take its course.”
Bin Laden was the founder of al-Qaeda, which the US claimed was responsible for the September 11, 2001, suicide attacks on the country. US soldiers killed him in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
In her comments, Netherlands-based blogger Adriana Stuijt wrote:
“While this is a horrific incident, I would ask why there wasn’t a similar outrage when four Afrikaner dads, unarmed, were mowed down in Umbilo by two South African Muslim policemen who had taunted the Afrikaners about their ‘penis size’. That was just as much a hate crime, yet the SA news media have kept very silent about this. There was no ‘brawl’ until the Muslims had insulted the Afrikaners, who were in their usual pub watching a football game in Umbilo. Three of the Afrikaner men died instantly at the scene – Nick Janse van Rensburg, 57, Shawn Strydom, 33, and Rory Menzies, 40. Two others, Shawn and Bruce Edwards, were injured. Bruce Edwards later died in hospital. All were family men. It does not help to keep sweeping up emotions and polarising people like this.”