The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) says one of the former principals accused of sexual abuse has been suspended “with immediate effect” from the organisation’s education board. This follows “serious allegations” of sexual abuse levelled against the individual and his brother, both prominent educators and well respected in the Muslim community. Both brothers are in their eighties.
On Tuesday, a video by the granddaughter of one of the men detailing the alleged abuse went viral and has sparked a conversation around sexual violence in the Muslim community. The woman unpacks the years of abuse she endured between age five and 10, before she relocated to Qatar with her family. She reveals she had spoken about her alleged abuse years before, but her grandfather was not held accountable. At this stage, it remains uncertain of what action her parents had taken in this regard.
“We condemn all acts of sexual molestation and abuse of women and children. Crimes of this nature is abominable, and the processes of the law must be fully instituted. Our sympathy goes out to all who are suffering from any form of violation. The MJC encourages those who have fallen victim to crimes of this nature to break their silence and to seek legal recourse,” said the MJC in a statement.
As religious leaders try to chart a way forward, the Bo Kaap community is reeling with anger. News of the alleged abuse has rocked the tight-knit community, many of whom held the educators in high regard. Many Bo Kaap residents want the alleged perpetrators to be held accountable for their actions and for gender-based violence to be dealt with decisively.
Bo Kaap Residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Osman Shabodien said will never condone the actions of any sexual offender. However, he said it’s a “very sensitive situation” and called for calm. The issue must be investigated and the law must take its course, he said.
“We will be removing the perpetrators from all positions that they’re currently serving on and ask the community to allow the law to take its course. Our hearts are heavy but the scourge of violence in any form, against the most vulnerable in our community, must stop. We request the community to understand that this we must avoid secondary victimization of the victim and all those who will still come forward,” he said.
Community activist Nadeem Hendricks said society must adopt a “zero-tolerance approach” to gender-based violence and child abuse.
“Perpetrators of such acts must face the full force of the law and face the consequences. It is the humanity in each one of us that must protect our women, children, poor and vulnerable. This brings us closer to justice, peace and God.”
Meanwhile, members of the Bo-Kaap community are planning a silent protest outside of the former Hilton hotel in the Cape Town CBD on Thursday evening. Concerned resident Shafwaan Laubscher says the purpose of protest is to show support to all survivors of abuse.
“We need to eradicate these evil acts from our community,” he urged.
Laubscher implored the entire Muslim community to come out and take a stand. The picket starts at 5pm.
The family of the survivor and alleged perpetrators have declined to comment.