Parents and learners at Madrassa-Tu-Taliya in Lotus River fear they may have to move, following several unsuccessful attempts to have the City of Cape Town renew the schools lease agreement. The school is located on City of Cape Town owned property on the corner of De Wet and Clip roads.
A member of the madrassa committee Yusuf Khan Dalwai explained that when they noticed that the property was left vacant in 2016, they approached the City of Cape Town to utilize the land.
An agreement was made for a three-year lease, which expired at the end of January this year.
Dalwai said part of the agreement signed by chairperson Sheik Mohammad Adams at the time was that the lease could be renewed. The City has however refused to do so, citing a clause within the agreement.
“Six months prior to the lease expiring, we were informed that they will not be renewing the lease agreement on the basis of one clause stating that ‘any party at any time may cancel the lease agreement.’”
Dalwai however added than an extension of six months was given, at the end of which “(they) need to be out”.
He said that, despite several attempts, there has been no formal communication or correspondence from the City or the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato.
“We have not, to date, received any correspondence. Three weeks ago, we requested a meeting with the mayor and we are still waiting on a reply or acceptance of such a request, to ask what the situation (is). Is there a problem and how can we (ensure) a win-win situation?”
He noted that management requested the City to renegotiate on the premise that the option to renew is included in the agreement and to provide clarity on why it has been revoked. The madrassa has requested that the City renew the lease to allow them to continue the work they are doing within the Lotus River community.
“We have just made in-roads in the Lotus River Community with the children and adults, doing feeding schemes, empowerment for ladies as well as the madrassah classes which take place. It takes time to develop this and break through to a community, especially in a community (like this).”
Dalwai noted that there has been no breach of the agreement and that rent has been paid a year in advance. He emphasized that it will be to the community’s detriment to issue a lease to another party.
“The community is very sad that it has come to this point. The reality is we may have to look for alternative premises and move into another area. But the community (looks) forward to us being there. They are not going to have a madrassah and those programmes in their proximity.”
A picket outside the school was held on Saturday 23rd February to garner support from the community against its closure.
According to Dalwai, the City has sent potential new tenants to view the property.
Mayor Dan Plato could not be reached for a comment. However, the mayor’s spokesperson said a response will be issued by Thursday.