Johannesburg - Kicks flew and car tyres were slashed as Muslims came under attack from other residents at a Midrand estate in Joburg over a sheep and bull being prepared for slaughter to celebrate a religious ceremony.
Ayman Fareed, a resident of Saddlebrook Estate in Midrand, described the “violent” attempt to block the slaughter of 6 sheep and a bull as “racist and anti-Islam”.
Two Muslim families live at the upmarket estate in Kyalami, and Fareed said one of the families was prevented from celebrating the religious holiday on Monday.
Eid is a holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide as it marks Eid-ul-Adha, the Muslim celebration at the conclusion of the Hajj (pilgrimage). “This was our first year living at the estate; the other family didn’t do it (celebrate the holiday) because they were afraid to be the odd ones out,” said Fareed.
Fareed said the trouble started at around 6.20am when the vehicles transporting the animals for the feast reached the estate. Minutes later, he said, 10 to 15 cars blockaded the entrance.
He said estate management then suggested they use another entrance.
“My wife was driving in when a white Hilux bakkie intentionally blocked her off. We were literally shut off from our home at both gates,” he said.
She resorted to going home through the boom gate of the complex. As she entered a car rammed into her. She stopped to inspect the damage and the bakkie driver came out wielding an army knife and slashed the tyres of the trailer transporting the animals.
Fareed said he and the bakkie driver almost exchanged blows, but fortunately police arrived and intervened.
The slaughtering eventually took place under police guard. The estate’s board of directors confirmed that Fareed was granted permission to conduct the religious slaughter of animals on his premises. The board condemned the actions of the residents who tried to prevent the Muslim family from practising their religion.
“Representatives of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) visited the resident’s premises and advised that they were suitable for the ceremony,” the board told The Star yesterday. “It came to the attention of the board, ahead of the event, that a minority of residents objected to the SPCA permission being granted.”
The board revealed that those who had complained threatened to obtain an interdict preventing the ceremony from proceeding.
“The interdict was not sought. Early on Monday morning, some residents used their vehicles to block entrances to the estate in an attempt to prevent access for the car bringing the animals for the ceremony,” it said. “A series of altercations, some resulting in injury and damage to property, took place.
“The SAPS was summoned and subsequently one of the violent residents was arrested.”
The board of directors said it wished to go on public record that it deplored the “intolerant and illegal actions in the estate of some residents”.
It was considering taking legal action against those responsible for the violence.
Ceri von Ludwig, a Saddlebrook resident who has come under fire over the incident, said homeowners reacted with anger because the Muslim family had not complied with a council by-law. “It was simply about the failure to comply with the municipal by-law. The gentleman himself stated on various occasions that he had not complied with the by-law,” said Von Ludwig. She insisted that residents were well within their rights to demand compliance for an act they found “distasteful”.
“If the residents find out that something which is, and let’s be honest, distasteful to them from an animal welfare perspective - we’re not saying unlawful, but distasteful to them - is taking place surely they have every right to ascertain whether there has been compliance with the law.
“If there has, they have to back off. If there hasn’t, they are entitled to rely on that, whether or not it seems to be unreasonable,” said Von Ludwig.
Fareed and the board of directors, however, disputed this, saying the SPCA had given the Muslim family the green light to undertake their religious ceremony.
Von Ludwig acknowledged that “things got out of hand” but rejected the racism allegations. “Unfortunately, yes, it did get very unpleasant. I didn’t hear racism. I didn’t hear anti-Islam. I just heard a lot of grown-up people being very rude to each other. I did my best to dissipate that.
“It was certainly the Indian people who started to shout ‘you’re being racist, you’re being anti-Islam’. I think our tendency to play the race card and the religion card wrongly has got to stop in this country.”