/ 4 June 2024

Estranged son of SA Holocaust and Genocide Foundation chairperson in court for alleged Islamophobic murder

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Grayson Beare appeared in the Durban magistrate's court on Tuesday. Photo by Lyse Comins

Grayson Beare, the son of the chairperson of both Beare Holdings and the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation Julian Beare, appeared in the Durban magistrate’s court on Tuesday on charges of murder and attempted murder after an alleged Islamophobic attack in the city.

Beare, 44, allegedly stabbed Halima Hoosen-Preston to death in her Glenmore, Durban, home in the early hours of Sunday. Her husband Shaun Preston and her son are fighting for their lives in hospital.

The Beare family has distanced itself from Grayson, who has previously been treated for psychological problems and substance abuse, saying they stand with Hoosen-Preston’s family.

Sunday’s attack has rocked the local community, heightening religious and racial tensions, because the assault allegedly occurred after an altercation Beare had with Hoosen-Preston during which she laughed upon hearing that his cousins had been killed in Israel. He said this in a video that went viral on social media, in which he identified himself as a former Zionist who has rejected the Jewish religion.

Addressing the public gallery on Tuesday, magistrate Ashwin Singh warned the large contingent of United for Palestine Supporters and Economic Freedom Fighters members to comply with the rules of the court and to remove sunglasses and non-religious headgear. He barred the public from recording the court proceedings, apart from taking written  notes.

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

Ahead of the court appearance the group had protested peacefully outside the court building expressing their support for Palestine, which Hoosen-Preston also openly supported, and calling for Beare not to be granted bail.

Prosecutor Calvin Govender said the state intended to oppose bail and wanted a seven-day postponement so that it could do a bail investigation and so that Beare could undergo a mental health assessment by the district surgeon. He asked for Beare to be remanded in custody at Westville Prison.

Defence attorney Nyameko Jodwana told the court that Beare wanted to seek protection because he had received threats in prison.

Singh asked Beare about minor injuries that appeared on his face and body.

“He says he was assaulted by undercover police,” Jodwana said.

Singh said Beare should make representation to the department of correctional services regarding his request for protection, and postponed the case to 11 June.

Beare (born King) is the son of Julian Beare’s late wife from whom he had been estranged for 30 years, the family said in a statement on Tuesday. Julian adopted Grayson when they married but has been estranged from him “for a number of years”.

“It is with shock and dismay that the Beare family learnt of the heinous attack on the Hoosen-Preston family in the early hours of Sunday morning,” the statement said.

“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 are 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 and offer them our full support.  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 said and what he has done.”

The family said Beare has previously been treated “for an array of substance abuse and psychological issues”, adding: “To our knowledge, he was still under professional medical care. The family will not assist financially or in any way with Grayson Beare’s defence. We reiterate that we stand firmly for and with the victims — the Hoosen-Preston family.”

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United for Palestine protestors outside the Durban magistrate’s court, where Grayson Beare appeared on Tuesday. Photo by Lyse Comins

Speaking outside court, United for Palestine’s secretary general, Imraan Subrathie, called for prompt justice to be served.

“This is a litmus test for us in South Africa of the justice system for complete faith and belief in our justice system. Today, I was quite touched when the court, when the judge asked this person [Beare] that you have a wound on your nose, and then he was asked again, do you have any other ones? This is the respect that we and our South African justice system even shows to criminals,” he said.  

“We appeal to our supporters to remain calm. Let us respect, let us not stoop to the level that others have stooped to. We are peaceful activists and will remain peaceful. We will follow the law of our country. We appeal to all those who are in law to ensure that justice is served for the deceased.”