The Historic Cape Malay Choirs say they will not be silenced.
This after a luxury hotel in the CBD appealed to the City of Cape Town to ensure that the annual event – which attracts thousands of cheerful revellers – did not disturb sleeping guests by playing music when walking past its premises.
The traditional event usually takes place on News Year’s Eve, but was moved to December 30 because it fell on a Thursday, which clashed with the beliefs of the mostly Muslim singers and musicians.
If the event took place on the Thursday, the parade and the follow-up invitations to sing at venues around the city would run into the Muslim holy day, Friday.
Shafick April, president of the Cape Malay Choir Board said he was only made aware of the letter on Thursday – after the event had already taken place. But even if he had been aware of it, April was adamant the hotel could complain all they want. He said the parade had been around long before the establishment, which was opened five years ago.
He said they had adhered to their permit in terms of marching through the streets of Cape Town.
“We were not passing a mosque, or a holy shrine. It is just a hotel. No one else complains. The people in the guest houses and motels in the area don’t complain.”
He said they were a passive group of 21 choirs.
“And we will be back next year, same parade. Same route.”
April said they had a very successful event on Wednesday, which had started a little late but had taken place without a hitch.
And they had sung and marched past the hotel, same as every year.
Mayoral committee member for tourism, event and economic development Garreth Bloor confirmed that they had received the letter from the Taj, which was in turn passed on to the Cape Malay choir organisers.
The letter, written by hotel general manager Michael Pownall reads: “They [choirs]should just march past and into Adderley St without music – This really is critical as I have a 100% full Hotel with very high-rate paying visitors, whom will SERIOUSLY complain if they cannot sleep due to this event.
“We have had some co-operation in the past, but it has never been ideal… bad enough that we have to deal with the road closures and access problems this brings. Do let me know please.”
Bloor said they normally passed the messages on whenever they received such requests.
“We issued the event organiser with a noise exemption certificate so any decision to reduce noise was entirely in their hands and their choice. Final power was given to the event organisers by the city and they had the right to decide as it was their event,” he said.
It is not clear how many complaints the Taj Hotel received from guests in light of the parade. News24