An article by journalist De Wet Potgieter which appeared on the Daily Maverick this Monday has offended many Muslims in South Africa. According to the Mail and Guardian, the followers of the Muslim faith thought that the article reeked of a phobia of Islam and foreigners in general. The article claims that al-Qaeda has known training bases within the borders of South Africa but the government is yet to take action.
Potgieter pleaded with readers to remove emotion when considering the implications of his article. He said: “This is not about an attack on the Muslim community and the Muslim religion. It’s about al-Qaeda training.”
When it was posed to Potgieter that many readers felt that the article left a lot to be desired as far as facts were concerned, he responded by saying that there would be another story to fill in the blanks. He explained that his investigation into this controversial story had lasted a year and by virtue of the large volume of material he has collected, it would have been impossible to present his findings in just one article.
The director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, Na’eem Jeenah, is particularly concerned about the provocative nature of the article with regards to xenophobia. Potgieter stated that Malawians, instead of South Africans, were hired for construction projects at the Dockrats’ farm located in the Karoo. Jeenah does not see the relevance of the nationality of the construction workers in a story about an al-Qaeda training camp at the farm. This farm is said to be the address of the al-Qaeda training base.
Potgieter fingers a well-off Muslim family that owns the farm as the South African connection to the al-Qaeda camp. Farhad Dockrat is a Muslim religious leader while Junaid Dockrat is a dentist. Potgieter alleges that the two relatives bought land in the Karoo as well as the Garden Route with the intention of providing terrorists with a secure environment for “training purposes”.
Besides two payments that were reported to have been made by the Dockrats to entities that are known to have direct ties to al-Qaeda, Potgieter has not disclosed details of any other links that the Dockrats may have with al-Qaeda.