By Jenni Evans
Cape Town’s famous Muir Street mosque, in District 6, has been hit with a noise complaint as its congregants mark the holy month of Ramadan.
“Yes, we have received a complaint from the City of Cape Town,” said Yunoos Ismail, chairperson of the Zeenatul Islam Masjid.
“We are having an emergency meeting tonight,” he said on Saturday morning.
He said he did not want to discuss the matter further, until after the board had met to discuss the letter received from the City.
The mosque is on the corner of Muir and Chapel streets.
It dates back to the arrival of people from the Indian sub-continent who settled in District 6 during the late 1800s, according to its website.
“In the 1960s, with the proclamation of District 6 as a white area, the evictions of the multicultural, diverse, religious, racial and ethnic communities had begun, stripping the city of its most vibrant and colourful populace,” the website explained.
Places of worship were spared and the mosque has grown over the decades with properties in Chapel Street purchased to expand on its activities, which include a madrassa (religious school).
The City of Cape Town tweeted that it had received a complaint, and was obliged in terms of the law to investigate.
However, this will be done after Ramadan, and the call to worship will not be stopped.
News of the complaint had people on Twitter blaming the development on gentrification – new developments in the area – that some say are putting pressure on existing ways of life and communities.
According to SA History Online, the first people were removed in 1901, when black residents were evicted and moved to Ndabeni on the grounds of bubonic plague in the area, and another wave came after PW Botha declared it a “whites only” area in 1966.
Residents were relocated to Belhar, Hanover Park and Rylands Estate if they were not classified as white.
In the meantime, the District 6 Working Committee is working through the Western Cape High Court to address the restitution of land rights for those forcibly removed. They regard it as an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.
In April, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane was ordered to personally appear in court on May 17, to explain her failure to comply with a court order regarding the development of District 6 for land claimants.
Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said on Saturday that Nkoana-Mashabane said in her court papers ahead of that appearance that it would cost R11bn to finish District 6 entirely and that her department only has R300m.