The historic Tana Baru cemetery in the Bo-Kaap. File photo: INLSA
Cape Town - One of South Africa’s most historic cemeteries is going under the hammer.

It has emerged that the historic Tana Baru cemetery is expected to be auctioned on June 27. It is situated in Schotsche Kloof, which is just above Bo-Kaap

An advert was placed in weekend papers’ commercial properties sections describing the property as a rare development opportunity, with City and harbour views in a trendy location.

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It’s one of the largest cemeteries in South Africa. The advert has unleashed the anger of Bo-Kaap residents.

“The advert is misleading to potential buyers in that it fails to mention that the two even form part of a graveyard, and any development on this historic heritage site is very unlikely to be approved by the authorities, and certainly will not be allowed by the community,” said the spokesperson for the Tanu Baru Trust, Mohammad Groenewald.

Similar attempts by others to develop the cemetery have failed. The Tana Baru’s historical significance stems from it being the first officially recognised Muslim cemetery in South Africa. Many pioneers of Islam in the Western Cape, like Tuan Guru, Abubakr Effendi, are buried there.

Groenewald said efforts were under way to have the Tana Baru declared a national heritage site.

“We oppose the sale of the land to any developer and urge Claremart and the family who provided Claremart with the mandate to sell at a reserve price of R20million to immediately cancel the auction, and negotiate the transfer of these erven to the Tana Baru Trust in order to allow the Tana Baru to be transformed into a Garden of Remembrance, celebrating and commemorating our rich heritage,” he said.

Action group Bo-Kaap Rise have also weighed in. They have labelled the sale “ridiculous”.

“That is one of the oldest cemeteries in South Africa. It has deep religious significance. To auction it off is ridiculous,” said Bok-Kaap Rise member Mishkah Collier.

Collier wrote a thesis about gentrification in Bo-Kaap, and will present her findings in London. Bo-Kaap Rise has been at the centre of the recent protests in the area.

“I don’t think that only residents will be angry. I think the entire Muslim community will be angry about this,” she said.

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Cape Argus