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City of Cape Town under fire for trying to silence a Salt River mosque

Salt River Mosque in Tennyson Street. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Salt River Mosque in Tennyson Street. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 16, 2022


Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has come under fire for continually targeting places of worship after a noise nuisance notice was issued to Mughammaddiyah Masjid on Tennyson Street in Salt River.

The letter, dated May 12, quotes the Provincial Noise Control Regulations and demands the mosque to immediately mitigate the amplified sound after the City’s Noise Control Administration office received a complaint about noise from the premises.

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This came despite an undertaking by the City that the “noise nuisances” section of the Streets, Public Places, and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-Law would not apply to places of worship operating within appropriate zoning after it updated its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) last month.

Muslim Judicial Council Second Deputy President Sheikh Riad Fataar said after the letter was issued, contact was made with the City which indicated that the official who handled the matter seemed to be unaware of the updated SOP.

Fataar said it was not “strange” that a government employee was not aware of what happened at the top.

“But even in the midst of all of that, the Muslim Judicial Council is prepared to listen to what the complaint is. But if we are compliant with everything else, then we expect the City to act in the protection of the mosque.

“We cannot be a people that do not take note of when a person has a valid complaint, but we also stress that mosques stay within the by-law,” he said.

However, Fataar said the complaint against the mosque was strange as it has been standing for more than 100 years. He said discussions with City officials were ongoing.

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Executive member of Cape Town Ulama Board, Shaykh Sayed Ridhwaan, said the City misrepresented the community with the statement released on April 27. He accused the City of “pulling the wool” over the eyes of the Muslim community and other affected communities.

“As a community we need this by-law to be scrapped and that the sound of prayers not be considered noise. And that the City apologise to all religious institutions for their insensitivity and the fines imposed against religious institutions.

“We will not tolerate this type of undermining to take place within our faith communities, and the incident of the Salt River Masjid should be the last time that a place of prayer is served with a noise nuisance notice. We will never stand with a City that calls the sounds of prayer a noise,” he said.

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Mayco member for Community Services and Health, Patricia van der Ross, said the letter was meant to inform the premises that complaints had been received and that the City would like to commence a resolution process. Unfortunately, the wording in the letter did not reflect the recently published operating procedure.

Van der Ross said the City would contact the mosque to apologise for the wording and provide reassurance that the environmental health services would work with them to resolve the noise concern in the spirit of the SOP.

She said the City would also undertake detailed training with all practitioners dealing with noise complaints to ensure that everyone was well acquainted with the new SOP.

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“The City further undertakes to ensure that letters of this nature are reviewed and not distributed to places of worship,” Van der Ross said.

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Cape Argus