South African police said the motive of the attack at a mosque on the Old Main Road in Ottawa the KwaZulu-Natal province was unknown and they were investigating.
The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa "vehemently condemned" the attack on the mosque.
Balram said police had cordoned off the scene of the attack.
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"The imam, who had his throat slit, has passed away a few minutes ago due to his injuries", said Paul Herbst, spokesman for the private IPSS medical rescue service. About 1.5% of the country's population is Muslim.
Three people are in a serious condition after a mosque in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal came under attack at 14:39 on Thursday. Paramedics or doctors who can assist can report to the scene, ' RUSA said in an statement released today. "One knife was left behind", Prem Balram, spokesman for Reaction Unit South Africa said, speaking from the scene.
He said it was believed that three men, believed to be Egyptian nationals, were responsible for the attack and fled the scene in a white Hyundai Getz. Nothing was taken from the mosque or from the victims, that's why we're saying it doesn't look like a robbery.
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"A mosque is a religious institution, and South Africa's constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices", its chairman Francois Beukman said.
The suspects then attacked three people before setting some of the mosque's rooms alight. "We want our communities to live in harmony, practising their religions without fear".
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