Standing in solidarity

Sandy Schuter, Strandfontein community police forum (CPF) chairwoman

I read that there was a complaint lodged against the mosque in Bo-Kaap to silence the call to prayer.

We had the same issue in our community and as a community leader, I could not stand by and allow the attack on our Muslims or the continuous onslaught on Islam to prohibit the call to prayer, which has been happening for decades.

Today, I stand in the forefront and I will spearhead once again in defence of our Muslim brothers’ and sisters’ right to pray.

Today I stand as a representative of Strandfontein in support of the athaan to not be silenced.

We cannot allow anyone to set a precedent to silence the athaan.

We will show our support in any way possible to the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and also to the officiating imam, Sheikh Dawood Terblanche.

We need to set the bar high that we will not tolerate any complaints against any religion that sounds the call to come and pray.

I have already sent this email to the office of South African Human Rights commissioner Chris Nissen to halt the investigation permanently whenever an individual complains about the call to prayer.

We demand a permanent halt on the City of Cape Town investigating such complaints.

I pledge my support as the head of the Strandfontein CPF and my community stands in solidarity with you.

Sheikh Zaid Dantie, Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) secretary general, responds:

The MJC notes with concern the noise nuisance complaint registered against the Leeuwen Street Mosque, in Bo-kaap.

The MJC would like to state that it had formal discussions with Mzwakhe Nqavashe, chairman of the safety and security portfolio committee, in May, to have the athaan, or call to prayer, be exempted from being regarded as a “noise nuisance” in the current City by-laws.

The call to prayer is an important function in the life of Muslims and serves to inform when the time for prayer has entered.

The MJC will continue working with the City and civil society so that this issue can be concluded amicably.

The MJC appreciates the support from various sectors of society and across the religious spectrum regarding this matter, which is a strong expression of respect given to the cultural diversity in our country.

The MJC will ensure that the matter receives the highest priority.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, responds:

The City of Cape Town respects the right to practise any religion and there have been no instances where the administration has silenced the call to prayer anywhere.

However, the City is duty-bound to investigate complaints, as provided for in the regulations governing issues around noise nuisances and disturbances.

The regulations imply that both parties have rights.

In this particular instance, the mosque has the right to do its call to prayer but at the same time any member of the public has a right to complain if they deem it a noise nuisance or disturbance.

In the case of noise disturbance investigations are conducted by the City’s Specialised Noise Unit through sound measurement testing; the results of which are weighed against stipulated criteria in the regulations.

In the case of noise nuisance, the complainants are required to submit a sworn affidavit in terms of the Western Cape Noise Regulations.

After receipt of an affidavit regarding noise nuisance, authorised officials are required to investigate the complaint and exercise an opinion in terms of whether or not the complaint can be considered a noise nuisance.

Based on the findings, the unit may generally first mediate a process with a view to finding an amicable solution for all concerned.

The City understands the sensitivities around the call to prayer, but we need to be mindful that everyone has rights and the City uses regulatory processes to adjudicate these matters.