Hindu bodies take incense burning issue at Durban flats to human rights commission
Durban - THE SA Hindu Dharma Sabha and the SA Hindu Youth Movement have jointly lodged formal complaints with the SA Human Rights Commission against Wakefields Property Management for alleged religious intolerance.
This was after the managing agents served a notice to Morningside Ridge residents last week, regarding complaints about smoke from incense sticks and the sacred Hawan (sacrificial fire) ceremonies.
In the retraction notice, Wakefields explained that the wording in the initial notice may have created an impression that complaints were related to religious practices, instead of the discomfort and inconvenience experienced by other residents.
“As such, we sincerely apologise. Consequently, that notice has since been withdrawn and is replaced with the following: We are acutely aware of and respect the fact that the diversity of residents at the complex have the right to reside in harmony while practising their cultural beliefs and customs. It is just as important that all residents are cognisant of the impact of their behaviour on their neighbours and other residents in the complex. On receipt of a complaint and video footage from some residents, that related to excess smoke emanating from the burning of what is assumed to be Hawan mixture, the trustees have deemed it necessary to remind all residents of the rules of the body corporate,” said the management.
Dharma Sabha president Ram Maharaj acknowledged the withdrawal and noted the contents of the substitute notice, but felt it was still unacceptable.
“This matter cannot be deemed to be resolved and the authors of the notice must be held to account,” said Maharaj.
SA Hindu Youth Movement president Vedhan Singh said: “These notices make a mockery of our Heritage Month. They have caused hurt, humiliation and harm to Hindus.”
Wakefield’s managing director John Wakefield yesterday said the managing agents and the board of trustees have engaged with the SA Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee to clarify the issue after receiving a letter from him.
He said the advice was to put the matter as follows: “All owners and residents are asked to respect other people and be mindful of their environment in which they live. Community living is most successful when there is healthy respect and tolerance for the rights and dignity of fellow community members.
As such, the Trustees implore all residents to abide by the Body Corporate Rules and regulations, and demonstrate a healthy respect for each other’s cultures and religious practices.”
Wakefield said he has had no engagements with Maharaj and was unaware of complaints to the SAHRC.
SAHRC provincial manager Lloyd Lotz was unaware of the complaints from the religious groups.
“This does not mean a complaint has not been submitted to the commission, as there are various platforms to lodge complaints,” said Lotz.