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Leaders call for calm following murder backlash



Jewish representatives have called on all leaders not to allow the murder of a Muslim mother and the attempted murder of her husband and son, allegedly by a Jewish man, to be the spark in a tinderbox.

The murder of Halima Hoosen-Preston in KwaZulu-Natal, along with the stabbing of her husband, Shaun, and son, allegedly by the estranged son of distinguished Jewish philanthropist Julian Beare, this week rattled the anti-Israel movement, intensifying the already extreme tension since the start of the war on 7 October last year.

Anti-Israel organisations and political parties such as Africa4Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Al Jama-ah have seemingly hijacked the horrific family tragedy for political purposes.

Motor mechanic Grayson Beare, 44, the adopted son of Julian Beare, 69, the chairperson of Beare Holdings, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, 4 June, on charges of murder and attempted murder.

This after he is alleged to have fatally stabbed his wife’s good friend, Hoosen-Preston, in her Glenmore, Durban, home in the early hours of Sunday, 2 June. Her husband, Shaun, and her son were seriously injured in the attack.

Details are sketchy as to what caused Beare allegedly to go to the family home. It’s believed that Beare’s wife, Jaclyn, had recently left him, taking their son with her. Beare (born King) is the son of Julian Beare’s late wife, Sue-Ellen, from whom he has been estranged for more than 30 years. Julian adopted Grayson when they married, but has been estranged from him for some time.

The defence submitted that the accused was diabetic, bipolar, and suffered from schizophrenia.

A video which has gone viral and inspired fury shows Beare allegedly confessing to the crime, claiming that the attack was motivated by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein described the attacks as “shocking and reprehensible”, saying that his heartfelt prayers go out to the survivors of the attack and expressed his deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends.

“The perpetrator, in custody, is known as a severely troubled individual with a history of drug abuse and serious mental illness. It goes without saying that he doesn’t represent the Jewish community or Jewish values in any way,” Goldstein said.

“As Jews and Muslims in South Africa, we’ve always enjoyed uniquely peaceful and friendly relations in spite of our very different views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, embodying the culture of mutual respect that pervades our country. I therefore echo the sentiments of my fellow leaders in the Muslim community calling for calm and for the law to take its course.”

The Beare family expressed “shock and dismay” upon learning about what it called the “heinous attack”. A dismayed Julian has for decades been involved in non-governmental organisations in the areas of education, social upliftment, and culture. He’s a recipient of the Paul Harris Award, the highest award given to a Rotarian who has made an “outstanding contribution” to the greater community.

The Beare family told the SA Jewish Report, “We extend our deepest condolences to the Hoosen-Preston family, the deceased’s loved ones and community, and heartfelt prayers for a full recovery for those injured.

“We’re shocked by the abhorrent violence, and wholly condemn Grayson Beare’s actions. While nothing we say or do can reverse these violent actions, as a family, we stand with the Hoosen-Prestons.

“We were also horrified by his deeply upsetting comments that we heard in the video currently circulating. We totally reject any association with what he has said and done.”

The family went on to say, “Grayson has previously been treated for an array of substance abuse and psychological issues. To our knowledge, he was still under professional medical care.”

The family stated categorically that it wouldn’t assist financially or in any way with Grayson’s defence.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) described the killing of Hoosen-Preston and attacks on her family members as heinous crimes, which it condemned in the strongest terms.

“We trust that justice will take its course,” it said. “It’s clear from a video that has gone viral – the ethics of it aside – that Beare wasn’t of sound mind.

“Beare’s actions or views don’t represent the Jewish community, which has expressed sympathy with the families for their loss.”

Meanwhile, the Board expressed outrage at the comments made by EFF KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Chairperson Commissar Mongezi Twala to the crowd outside the courthouse saying, “Starting from today, we cut the ugly throats of the Jewish” (sic) and we must “cut the head of the snake”, to which members of the crowd responded, “Thank you!”

Wendy Kahn, the national director of the SAJBD said the SAJBD would be investigating a case of hate speech against him. “His comments come in the wake of a statement issued by Africa 4 Palestine – as just one example of the anti-Israel lobby denigrating the South African Jewish community – which calls Jews in this country ‘violent’ and ‘aggressive’. As can be seen by the scenes outside the court, this is an inversion of the truth, inflammatory, and dangerous,” Kahn said.

She said it was “appalling and unacceptable” that a tragic situation had been “turned into vilification of the broader Jewish community”.

Addressing the public gallery on Tuesday, magistrate Ashwin Singh warned supporters of United 4 Palestine and the EFF to comply with the rules of the court and remove sunglasses and non-religious headgear. He barred the public from recording the court proceedings, apart from taking written notes.

“The court isn’t a political arena for you to vent your frustration. Let the court proceed in a dignified manner so that the constitutional rights of all are upheld,” Singh said.

The Community Security Organisation (CSO) called for justice to take its course and for the legal system to prosecute this crime to the fullest extent possible.

“However, we’ve observed a significant number of social media posts blaming ‘Zionists’ and calling for revenge. This is cause for concern in an already heated and volatile environment, possibly leading fringe elements to take matters into their own hands.”

In light of this, the CSO has called on the community to act responsibly and increase its vigilance.

Prosecutor Calvin Govender said the state wanted a seven-day postponement so that it could do a bail investigation and Grayson could undergo a mental-health assessment by the district surgeon. He is remanded in custody at Westville Prison.

Defence attorney Nyameko Jodwana told the court Grayson wanted protection because he had received threats in prison.

The case has been postponed to 11 June.

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