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Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 23:39 GMT


Muslim group calls for revenge

Members of the vigilante group fired a salute over the coffin

The leader of a militant Muslim group in South Africa has called for vengeance following the death in hospital of a Muslim who was shot by the security forces during a demonstration last week against airstrikes on Iraq.

"We want nothing less than the head of the one who instructed police to fire at the crowd," Abdusalaam Ebrahim, the leader of the group People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) told the mourners.

"We must organise ourselves, we must mobilise ourselves, we must arm ourselves," he said.

Armed Pagad members then fired a salute over the coffin as police helicopters and armoured vehicles patrolled the area.

Series of clashes

[ image: Pagad accuses the police of brutality]
Pagad accuses the police of brutality
Yusuf Jacobs died from injuries after being hit by rubber bullet fired by police in an attempt to break up a violent demonstration last week against the visit of the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The trouble followed similar pro-Islamic protests the day before Mr Blair's visit, when police and a group of radical Muslims clashed on the outskirts of the city.

The BBC's Johannesburg Correspondent, Greg Barrow, says these comments are not idle words from an extremist minority. The leaders of Muslim vigilante groups have gained increasing support from communities which have lost faith in the ability of local police to control gangsterism and drug peddling in the Cape Town area.

Police under pressure

[ image: The protesters were opposed to the strikes on Iraq]
The protesters were opposed to the strikes on Iraq
The police themselves are now coming under intense pressure to control the activities of the Muslim vigilante groups, who are allegedly behind more then 80 incidents involving the detonation of home-made bombs in the past twelve months.

Earlier the South African Security Minister, Sydney Mufamadi, had warned that inflammatory statements by muslims would not be tolerated.

Mr Mufamadi said he hoped the group had been misquoted over their apparent threat to make the country ungovernable if Mr Jacobs died.

"Nobody will be allowed to do such a foolish thing as disturbing the peace that our people have fought for over the decades," he said adding that there would be an inquiry into Mr Jacobs' death.

He told South African radio the investigation would cover the causes and circumstances surrounding the protester's death, whether police used excessive force, and whether the demonstrators used firearms.

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