The City of Cape Town is in the process of updating its streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisances by-law and has emphasized that it will not affect the call to prayer at local mosques. It follows concern over the amendment of the by-law, which was cited in previous cases where there were complaints that the athaan amounted to “noise”. Speaking to VOC on Monday, the chairperson of the City’s Safety and Security Portfolio Committee, Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe explained that the City is hoping to align it’s existing by-laws.
“You would recall that 29 October 2018, Advocate Michael Masutha, the then Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, extended powers for law enforcement across the country. So, we’ve been embarking on this to align all our by-laws. We are aligning the building by-law, traffic by-law… So this is another process,” he explained.
“But, these are minor amendments. We are not updating or amending entire sections of the by-law,” he noted.
Mzwakhe used the example of a traffic officer having the power to confiscate your cellphone if you are caught driving with it. If it is not collected within 90 days, it will be repurposed and will be used by the City.
“We are laying out all the processes so that officers follow the due process up to the point of seizure.”
He reassured that the section of the by-law which relates to “noise nuisance” is not going to be affected and changes to this part will most likely take place in 2021. Mzwakhe emphasised that engagements will take place with all affected stakeholders:
“I must make it clear: there’s a distortion in the public that we are targeting the mosque. No! We are not targeting the mosque. This week I’m meeting with the Muslim Juridical Council (MJC) to annul the fears that have been created. We’re not dealing with (that section) which is section 2 of the existing by-law. We are dealing with Section 22- laying out all the processes and procedures so that officers who are impounding follow due process,” he said.
MJCdeputy president Maulana Abdul Khaaliq Allie confirmed over the weekend that the council is aware of the matter and further discussions surrounding the by-law are in progress.
The public has until the 17th of May to submit comments, recommendations or input of the draft by-law to the municipality. You can visit capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay or contact Leon Wentzel on 021 444 0231