SHOW OF FAITH: President Cyril Ramaphosa met the MJC in Athlone to break the fast. With him is MJC president Irfaan Abrahams and his deputy Moulana Abdul Khaliq Alie. Picture:Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa attended his first breaking of the fast on Wednesday, in Rylands Estate, at an event organised by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

The ceremony was attended by various members of the MJC, prominent Muslim activists and politicians in the Western Cape, including Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela, Judge Siraj Desai, activist and journalist Zubeida Jaffer, provincial justice head Hishaam Mohammed and ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs.

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Addressing Ramaphosa, MJC president Sheik Irfaan Abrahams said the Muslim Marriage Bill was a major concern for the community, even though the country had achieved freedom and democracy.

“Our marriages are not recognised, thus our children are regarded as illegitimate. Even when we die, our death certificates reflect ‘not married’. This points to the moral indignity of our marriages not being recognised as legal and therefore we now ask your honourable office to apply the same political will for the Muslim Marriage Bill to become the Muslim Marriage Act,” Abrahams said.

He also said land issues were a thorny issue. “Gentrification efforts spearheaded by local government has seen the unilateral increase of rates and taxes. This, in turn, pushed and uprooted our people out of the inner cities to far-flung areas. In Bo-Kaap, fourth-generation inhabitants of their homes are forced to sell as they can no longer afford to live in the historic quarter. The state’s restitution programme, noble as it is, 24 years into democracy, merely scratched the surface,” he said.

He also asked Ramaphosa to convene a District Six summit.

He said the scourge of gangsterism and drugs, as well as the high-crime levels, were crippling communities.

In response, Ramaphosa urged the Muslim community, “in the spirit of Thuma Mina, to help us overcome the setbacks of recent times and to regain the momentum of progress.

“I have seen with my own eyes that the spirit of volunteerism, which is essentially what Thuma Mina is about, abounds in the Muslim community.

“I have no doubt that you will respond positively to this call and continue lending a hand to make the lives of others better.

“We must address the sense of alienation that many people feel as historical neighbourhoods like Bo-Kaap face gentrification, and we must strive to ensure that District Six again becomes a vibrant centre of inclusive community life.”

He said plans were under way to turn the Kramat in Macassar into a heritage site. “We have a responsibility to respond to this concern.

“We are making good progress, together with the MJC and the land claimants from Macassar, to resolve the outstanding land claim and the establishment of a heritage site at the Sheik Yusuf Kramat. This is our heritage. We must celebrate it,” Ramaphosa said.

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Cape Argus