Cassiem Abdullah from Bo-Kaap is opposing the sale of a historical cemetery, Tana Baru, in Bo-Kaap which his family owns. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien.
Cape Tow - One of the heirs of the Doutie family which intends to auction off part of the historic cemetery Tana Baru in Bo-Kaap has objected to the sale.

An emotional Cassiem Abdullah, who still lives in Bo-Kaap, said his father Abdullah Doutie also refused to sell the land.

Abdullah’s siblings and extended family members have turned to ClareMart auction house to sell the land.

RELATED: Bo-Kaap residents angry at bid to sell cemetery land

It comprises 20% of the Tana Baru, or New Ground, a cemetery where the country’s first Muslims from the Indo-Malay region were buried during the Dutch colonial period.

A Turkish spiritual leader, Abubakr Effendi, and Chinese immigrants are also buried at the cemetery.

The cemetery was divided into plots because various mosques in the area needed to bury their congregants. Property ownership was passed on to individuals by mosque committees according to land ownership laws of the time.

Abdullah on Sunday recalled how three decades ago family members who wanted to sell the property surrounded his father.

“My father didn’t want to sell. He had principles. He knew the history of the Tana Baru. But he had family members who just wanted to sell,” said Abdullah.

He said when he and his siblings inherited the land from his father the matter continued.

“My family has pestered me for the last 40 years to agree to sell. Now the majority have agreed to sell but I want nothing to do with it,” said Abdullah.

“We can’t sell this land. Our forefathers are buried here. The pioneers of Islam are buried here. Tuan Guru is the man who came to Cape Town with Islam. His handwritten Qur’an is displayed in the Auwal Mosque (in Dorp Street). How can we dig up that ground? Are we going to help people to exhume those bodies?”

While walking in the cemetery he added: “I’m going to go all the way to fight that nobody builds on that ground. We are not going to allow it. This is a heritage site.”

The Tana Baru Trust, which maintains the cemetery, said it was “talking to the families” who want to sell the 3220m2 land overlooking the city and Table Mountain.

Trust member Fatima Behardien said they wanted the families to cancel the sale scheduled for June 27 at the One and Only hotel at the V&A Waterfront.

Cape Argus