The city of Cape Town’s Social Services Directorate Environmental Health Department has met with The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC SA) and representatives from Masjidus-Saliheen in Bayview, Strandfontein, following a complaint by a resident that the athaan should be turned off.
Last week, the imam of the masjid received a letter to discontinue the athaan after a resident filed several complaints to the City.
Newly appointed ward councillor Zahid Badroodien said that “social media sensationalism” needed to be clarified as the letter was not about “silencing the athaan”.
Badroodien explained that a neighbour had filed a complaint to the City in July, with an affidavit stating that the Athaan is a disturbance for her. The City then attempted to take a sound reading to assess the viability of the complaint but this never happened due to weather conditions at the time. Badroodien said the issue was settled in September.
The imam of the masjid Maulana Yusuf Mohammed had subsequently turned down the loudspeakers and changed the direction of the speaker.
In the latest letter that was delivered to the Imam last week, parts of which were distributed on social media platforms, received backlash from the community after citing the athaan as a “noise nuisance”.
For the past few days, the athaan at Masjidus-Saliheen was allegedly replaced by a beep. The city however said it was never it’s expectation to have the athaan switched off.
MJC second deputy president Shaykh Riad Fataar said the CoCT had requested that the masjid present its noise management plan and appoint an acoustic engineer to ensure the sound volume remains at the required level.
Badroodien said it needed to be clarified that the escalation from a ‘Noise disturbance” to a noise nuisance” altered the regulations which needed to be followed, in that the City was not obligated to enforce the process of measuring the sound.
The MJCs Shaky Riyaas Fattar explained that when the initial complaint was filed it stated a “noise disturbance” and the City had to ensure the sound got measured. However, Fattar said a noise “nuisance” requires the department to ask the complainant to write an affidavit in their complaint.
“Because it is now called a noise “nuisance”, in terms of the law, it does not require them to come and measure up sound,” said Fattar.
Badroodien said that engagement from the City should have been done prior to the issuing of the letter. He added that the process could have been addressed more sensitively.
“Could it be handled differently? Yes, it could have. But at the same time, we needed to act because the regulations require us to do so,” said Badroodien.
He said a commitment has now been made to address issues regarding religious institutions more sensitively in future, as well as to address similar complaints across the city.
“Religious tolerance needs to be promoted in the department,” said Badroodien.
When asked about the City’s engagement with the complainant, Badroodien revealed that it was limited, other than the affidavit. He added that the complainant will be informed that the matter has been dealt with.
Fattar said the ‘Noise management plan’ required the masjid to put into writing what was already done to address the complaint.
“The Citys technical team is coming out to assist the masjid in terms of the sound level- with their own equipment. The Masjid does not need to get an acoustic engineer, it will be done by the City’s health department,” said Fattar.
In a meeting that was described as “extremely fruitful”, it was resolved that the City Health Department will assist the Masjid in concluding a Noise Management Plan within the next 10 working days, subject to weather conditions.
VOC / Tauhierah Salie