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COCT announces ‘noise nuisances’ by-law will not apply to places of worship

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The City of Cape Town has announced that the ‘noise nuisances’ section of its Streets, Public Places, and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-Law will not apply to places of worship ‘operating within appropriate zoning’.

On Thursday, the City updated its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on noise-related complaints to handle matters related to places of worship with ‘sensitivity and dignity’.

The Muslim Judicial Council has eagerly accepted an invitation by the City to monitor the implementation of the SOP:

“The City’s updated SOP on noise complaints stipulates that designated officials must ensure sensitivity and care in consulting a place of worship on any regulatory noise abatement measures as may be necessary, so as not to inhibit religious freedom,” read the statement.
Furthermore, if the City can assist a complainant and resolve the issues between themselves amicably, through conversation or neighbourly mediation, it will do so rather than take legal action.

It follows uproar over religious intolerance in 2019, when the athaan emanating from Cape Town’s historic Zeenatul Islam Masjid in District Six was deemed as a “noise nuisance”.

Calls to exempt religious activity from the by-laws was reiterated following a similar instance over the athaan at Nural Huda masjid in Leeuwen Street in 2020.

At the time, City of Cape Town’s then-Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien, reassured the community that all calls to prayer should be protected.

According to the MJC, mayor Geordin Hill Lewis has further agreed to expedite reassurance to the religious community, emphasizing that the constitutional rights of all needs to be respected and community disputes resolved amicably. Read the City’s full statement here.

‘The SOP formalises the operational procedure that has been in place since 2019.  With these latest standard operating procedure updates, we are providing the necessary reassurance to places of worship, while ensuring clarity on fair procedures for handling of noise-related complaints in communities. We further extend an open invitation to religious leaders to assist the City with monitoring the implementation of the SOP,’ said Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security.


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