Vereeniging mosque 'bomb' a hoax - police

The suspected homemade explosive device found at the Masjid Taqwa mosque in Vereeniging is a "hoax bomb", but the man arrested will still have to face the music because a hoax bomb is still illegal, police said on Wednesday.

Captain Fikile Funda said the man was supposed to have appeared in court on Wednesday, but police invoked their right to keep him in custody for 48 hours for further investigation.

They established that the device, found in a bag left behind, was not a real bomb but that it just looked like one.

"Being in possession of a hoax bomb is a crime in itself," explained Funda.

He said this is was in terms of the Explosives Act and was akin to waving a toy gun around with the intention of threatening someone with it.

"We have to dig deep into this to find out what was his [alleged] intention," said Funda.

The prosecutors would handle the case when the man appears in the Vereeniging Magistrate's Court on Thursday, he added.

Earlier, Funda said a 36-year-old man, who was unfamiliar to the community, went to a prayer service on Monday but security guards "spotted that the man left his bag behind".

It was taken for safekeeping but when they opened it on Tuesday, they saw the suspected handmade device. 

The Vereeniging incident comes after three other incidents at mosques this year, which has left some people jittery.

On June 14 in Malmesbury, two worshippers were stabbed to death and the perpetrator was shot dead in a confrontation with the police.

READ: Malmesbury mosque attack - Hawks find no element of extremism

The Hawks said there were no elements of extremism found and that the perpetrator had been an outpatient at a mental health facility.

In May, the Imam Hussain Mosque in Old Main Road in Ottawa, Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal was targeted by three men, who attacked worshippers before they set it alight.

One person died after his throat was slit while two others, including the mosque's imam, were stabbed.

READ: Alleged explosive device found at previously attacked KZN mosque

Days later, an apparent explosive device was also discovered inside the same mosque, underneath the moulana's chair.