The City of Cape Town has dropped all charges against city councillor Ganief Hendricks related to statements he made on the controversial Open Mosque in Wynberg. The City Speaker, Alderman Dirk Smit requested the Al Jama-ah party leader provide a letter, giving reasons why he should not be charged “for bringing the City into disrepute” after Hendricks claimed the Open Mosque had contravened the municipality’s rezoning by-laws.
Speaking to VOC Breakfast Beat on Friday, Advocate Zehir Omar, who provided legal representation on behalf of Hendricks welcomed the development, but posed a number of questions around the City’s handling of the Open Mosque saga.
Omar made reference to a similar situation in Johannesburg where the Hallelujah Ministries had planned to establish a building for a place of worship. According to Omar, a local councillor raised the issue following the mayor’s involvement. Then an urgent application was made at the Johannesburg High Court against the Hallelujah Ministries to terminate the building process.
“A lurking question came up during my research as the City of Johannesburg is applying the same Municipal Systems Act as the City of Cape Town. So then, why do you hold a councillor to a disciplinary committee, to be charged for exposing a contravention of a by-law?” Omar said.
After Omar had sent submissions to the City on behalf of Hendricks, all charges were dropped.
“A city councillor observed a direct contravention of the city’s by-laws and then he was threatened with a disciplinary hearing. Is it a matter of Hendricks being a Muslim and shedding light on a transgressor that was offending the Muslim community?” Omar asked.
VOC contacted Alderman Dirk Smit for answers but he was unavailable for comment.
Omar said he will consider court action against the City for payment of Hendricks’ legal cost, “trauma and unsettlement” he had endured after being threatened with having to face disciplinary charges that, if convicted, could have cost him his job. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)