Hazel Kendrick, a secretary at NMMU's Chemistry department, allegedly distributed an email from her work address to several respondents last week expressing her her disapproval of a mosque situated in the local suburb of Westering in Port Elizabeth.
The prayer site in Westering, in the form of a residential property, appears to have been targeted by a minority group of residents who have objected to its existence.
The email allegedly sent by Kendrick appears to have added to complaints directed at the prayer site. The email was circulated online and distributed extensively across WhatsApp group chats – in the sphere of social media she came under fire and her words were called out as yet another form of "discrimination".
"The [residents] of Westering have tolerated enough of this centre and would gladly see the back of this. This is a decent residential area and wish to keep it that way," wrote Kendrick in her email.
"It seems that ... love to push their religion on the western world and expect us to tolerate and accept this, but it's about time that we as stand up and say enough is enough. If they want their so-called centre then they must have it on their own country not and tuff."
NMMU spokesperson, Zandile Mbabela, said that the views expressed in the email went against against the very core of NMMU's values, which included the respect for diversity.
Upon the matter being brought to the university's attention Mbabela said that NMMU Vice Chancellor Derrick Swartz immediately instructed NMMU's legal unit and other relevant offices to launch an investigation.
"An internal investigation into the matter was immediately launched when the matter was brought to the University’s attention via a formal complaint on Friday morning. The investigation will, among other things, look into the possible violation of NMMU’s policies and values. With respect to NMMU policies, Mbabela said that the institution did not tolerate or support discrimination and intolerance of any kind.
"The investigation will look at the email against existing policies, including those that govern the use of the NMMU internet domain, and determine whether it is in direct violation of the University’s policies, with an appropriate sanction to be meted out," said Mbabela.
Kendrick could not be immediately reached for comment.
During October last year Executive Mayor Athol Trollip granted special consent for the facility to operate, however, several objections have been raised by residents who claim the prayer site is problematic.
Sheikh Shamiel Panday confirmed that the committee had received complaints but said it was "non material objections" which included residents complaining that the prayer site could possibly increase criminal activity and impact negatively on the value of property in the area. Panday was optimistic and said that it was still early days to determine an outcome.
However, he added, that it was possible that they may be asked by authorities to stop using the prayer site all together.
Democratic Alliance MP, Yusuf Cassim, told ANA that he had met with the committee over the weekend to discuss the current challenges.
"They have been struggling for about three years with rezoning and special consent. Last year it came before Mayor Athol Trollip who granted special consent for land use. Residents have now objected to the Mayor's decision and the matter will now have to go under review with town planning, a subdivision within Human Settlements," said Cassim.
Cassim said that a meeting between the Westering Jamaat Khana committee members and Nelson Mandela Bay Mayoral Committee Head for Human Settlements, Nqaba Bhanga, was scheduled to take place on Monday evening.